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La Crosse area legislators weigh in on Walker's speech

Here’s a sampling of reaction from some area legislators to Gov. Scott Walker’s State of the State address.


Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse: “Despite Gov. Walker’s frantic attempts to improve his public approval ratings in a tough election year, Wisconsin residents will not be fooled. This election year enlightenment has shown that he has failed to deliver on his empty promises of the past and his misguided priorities have taken the state in the wrong direction.

“Every time we drive over a pothole or cast a ballot for a school referendum, voters see the underfunding of our roads and local schools. As other states have rebounded from the Great Recession, Republican policies have shrunk Wisconsin’s middle class, shifted more costs onto working families and created an 111,000 jobs deficit.

“State cuts to local schools have driven up property taxes and shifted a greater burden onto homeowners. Health-care costs continue to rise, and people with pre-existing conditions are at risk of losing coverage through no fault of their own. Our roads are ranked as some of the worst in the nation, and too many communities are going back to graveled roads.

“Under Republican leadership, wages remain stagnant, jobs have been outsourced and workers’ rights have been stripped away. Rather than growing our middle class and investing in Wisconsin jobs, Gov. Walker continues to prioritize tax breaks for the wealthy and $4.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies to a foreign corporation, the largest in U.S. history.”


Rep. Treig Pronschinske, R-Mondovi: “It was great to hear the governor’s comments regarding the achievements that our state has made since I’ve been in the Legislature. Wisconsin has seen important things, such as increased K-12 funding, increased investments in our rural economy, and a continued tuition freeze. Knowing that infrastructure is crucial to a successful economy, we’ve made investments in local road and bridge aids.

“I’m looking forward to working through the rest of this legislative session to accomplish as much as possible for my district.”


Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma: “The State of the State should be measured by how each of us is doing in our own lives. By that measure, we are not doing well.

“Wages are 18th lowest in the country. We are last in business start-ups. We are third worst for affordable family-based infant childcare, making holding a job difficult and expensive.

“Public schools in our communities are getting less from the state in real dollars than 10 years ago, forcing many to pass referenda to increase local property taxes to keep schools open. Our student debt per graduate is eighth highest in the country.

“State sales tax revenue is up, but mostly because we are increasing our own consumer debt at an unsustainable rate.

“We need a new vision, one that puts people first. Gov. Walker’s focus on tax credits and cash payments to large corporations has not worked. Investing in our human potential, providing the resources people need to be productive, is the surest way to improve the state of the state.”


Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse: “Gov. Walker touted putting money into our roads, but he neglected to mention that he has continued to drive our debt up by irresponsible borrowing while our roads have become the second worst in the entire nation. He boasted investing into our schools, yet he failed to admit that he vetoed increasing aid to rural districts.

“Wisconsin Democrats support using sustainable funding sources to fix our crumbling roads, and we have been consistently fighting to increase funding to rural and low-revenue schools for years.

“The rosy picture that the governor portrays doesn’t translate to reality for much of Wisconsin when his priority lies in a $4.5 billion investment in Foxconn, a foreign company settled in the southeastern corner of the state. The governor mentioned several new initiatives, but, if he was serious about them, why didn’t he include them in the budget he signed just four months ago? We in Western Wisconsin can see through the governor’s flip-flopping and election year tactics.”

NATE BEIER, For the Tribune 

Viterbo University's Cade Anderson, a Sparta High School graduate, goes up for a shot against Edgewood College earlier this season.

Trump open to letting Dreamers 'morph into' citizens (copy)

WASHINGTON (AP)— President Donald Trump said Wednesday he’s open to an immigration plan that will provide a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally.

“We’re going to morph into it,” Trump told reporters. “It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years.”

But immediately after Trump spoke, a senior White House official cast doubt on Trump’s assurances, saying a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers was “maybe” an option.

“That’s a discussion point,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no authorization to discuss the issue publicly. The official added that Dreamers could immediately be given “legal status, as long as they behave themselves.”

Trump’s pronouncements — and the senior official’s addendum — came as the White House announced it would be unveiling a legislative framework on immigration next week that it hopes can pass both the House and the Senate. The president’s remarks amounted to a preview of that framework. He said he’ll propose $25 billion for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and $5 billion for other security measures.

Trump told reporters he had a message for the Dreamers: “Tell ‘em not to be concerned, OK? Tell ‘em not to worry. We’re going to solve the problem.”

But Trump has said repeatedly that any deal to protect those immigrants from deportation is contingent on money for the border wall and other security measures.

Trump was talking about the young immigrants who had been protected from deportation and given the right to work legally in the country under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Trump announced he was ending DACA last year, but he has given Congress until March to come up with a legislative fix.

Trump said he was confident that a deal can be reached on the issue. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the framework to be unveiled Monday “represents a compromise that members of both parties can support.”

The White House was trying to take control of the process amid criticism that the president had taken too much of a back seat during recent negotiations and had sent mixed signals that repeatedly upended near-deals.

“After decades of inaction by Congress, it’s time we work together to solve this issue once and for all,” Sanders said.

The senior official added that the White House planned to notify Congress on Wednesday night “exactly what the president’s position is. Cause that’s what they’ve been asking for. Cause they haven’t been able to come up with their own workable positions.”

Senators from both parties were making a fresh search for their own compromise immigration legislation, but leaders conceded that the effort wouldn’t be easy and were already casting blame should it falter.

Around three dozen senators from both parties met privately Wednesday, and two top lawmakers said they’d try crafting a compromise bill based on colleagues’ suggestions. The goal is to produce consensus legislation that would be the starting point for Senate debate on immigration, which is expected to begin Feb. 8, said Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., their parties’ No. 2 leaders.

“We’re the Senate, we have our own responsibility under the Constitution and we decided in this room to move forward,” Durbin said afterward. “If the president has some ideas he’d like to share, of course we’ll take a look at them.”

When asked if he knew what would be in the White House proposal, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he didn’t know and added, “But they’re not writing the bill.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed not to “let those who are anti-immigrant, who call giving the Dreamers hope ‘amnesty,’ block us. Because then we will fail, and it will be on the other side of the aisle that made that happen.”

Schumer spoke about 12 hours after Trump put the onus on him. “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA,” the president tweeted late Tuesday. “We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!”

Sanders said the White House framework is based on dozens of conversations Trump and his staff have had with members of both parties and that “it addresses all of the different things that we’ve heard from all of the various stakeholders” during the past several months.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said Trump called him Wednesday morning and wants to provide “dependability for these kids,” but still expects a deal to include money for border security and his promised southern wall, to limit immigrants’ ability to sponsor family members and to end a visa lottery aimed at diversity.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said if senators cannot produce a compromise plan by Feb. 8, he would open a debate on immigration legislation that would be “fair to all sides.” That suggests both parties would be allowed to offer amendments.

Feb. 8 is the date legislation expires that reopened the government after a three-day shutdown, which began after Democrats demanded movement toward an immigration deal as the price for financing federal agencies.

“Tell (the Dreamers) not to be concerned, OK? Tell ‘em not to worry. We’re going to solve the problem.” President Donald Trump

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Onalaska woman charged with sending nude photographs to 13-year-old

Prosecutors Wednesday charged an Onalaska woman with sending nude photographs of other people to a 13-year-old boy.


Kimberly Walsh, 36, pleaded not guilty to exposing a child to harmful material, conduct that her attorney called “a joke.”

“It was a bad joke,” attorney Chris Doerfler said.

The teen said he received five explicit images from Walsh since May through Facebook Messenger, according to the complaint filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court. He told police he deleted the images.

Officers found one video on his phone of two nude transgender people sent from Walsh on Oct. 30.

Walsh initially denied sending the images, but later said she was “trying to be funny,” the complaint stated. Police found two images of nude women sent to the boy on her phone on Jan. 6.

“Kimberly told me that she recognizes that this is wrong to send to a 13-year-old,” the officer wrote in his report.