People demand state lawmakers take action on climate change

People rallied outside Thursday's Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee meeting in Menomonie, Wis....
People rallied outside Thursday's Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee meeting in Menomonie, Wis. demanding lawmakers take action on climate change.(WEAU)
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) - To celebrate Earth Day, people rallied on the UW-Stout campus, site of the Wisconsin state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee’s hearing, demanding lawmakers act on climate change in the next state biennial budget.

“The urgency really kind of ratchets up even more every year, you know, especially as we’re seeing, you know, the climate changing and we’re seeing more unpredictable, you know, weather and more flooding or more severe weather,” Eau Claire City Council Member Jeremy Gragert said at the event.

They asked legislators to incorporate recommendations from Gov. Tony Evers’ Climate Change Task Force in the budget.

Those recommendations include increased funding for municipal flood control, wetland restoration programs and supporting farmer-led watershed groups.

“Not only is clean and obviously the ethical thing to do but also for our tourism industry, for our farmers to be able to prosper. This is about the future of our economy,” State Sen. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire, said.

Smith is a member of Evers’ Climate Change Task Force.

Not everyone thinks the state should spend a lot of money.

Samuel Schneider owns a small business in La Crosse. He’s concerned too much spending could lead to higher taxes.

“One of the things that this budget allows for is the raising of local municipal taxes and on top of that you have the state sales and on top of that the state property tax as well,” Schneider said. “So when all of those things kind of combine, it’s like you don’t see it all in one place but you’re going to feel it down the road.”

He said government has to do some things but not everything.

“There are some good projects that are being funded but there also are billions of dollars going for what’s called, ‘Taj Mahal projects,’ which are just big government projects that we don’t necessarily need but it’s like, “Oh, look at this new shiny building that we want,’” Schneider said.

The final state budget will likely be passed during the summer.

Gragert said he also wants more funding for public transit.

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