MAUSTON - In an area that generally supported Scott Walker in his campaigns for governor, that enthusiasm was absent when two Walker supporters in the Wisconsin Legislature held a listening session in Mauston.
When Republican Rep. Ed Brooks of Reedsburg and Republican Sen. Howard Marklein of Spring Green met with citizens Friday at the Mauston Municipal Building, none of the dozen people at the session voiced agreement with the Republican governor’s budget proposals that had been announced a few days earlier.
The two legislators represent districts that cover two towns and on village in Monroe County and all of Juneau County.
There are pockets of Democratic support in Mauston, but Walker easily carried Juneau County, from which most of the participants at the listening session came. A few of the people who spoke came from Reedsburg and that city voted with a narrow majority for Walker. Still the opinions expressed at the Mauston listening session were opposed to what Walker proposed and were skeptical of the motives of the legislators who held the meeting.
“I don’t know if we’re seeing honesty or transparency,” said Donna Miller of Mauston. “We are nothing but feudal serfs,” she stated to the legislators
Retired teacher Dave Wester, who generally disagreed with what he described as a deterioration of politics under Walker, disliked the proposed expansion of the use of government vouchers to fund alternative private charter schools.
John Dietz was unhappy with what he saw as a failure of the governor to fulfill a promise to create a quarter million new jobs in Wisconsin.
Trish Henderson was upset with what she saw as a cut in assistance for senior citizens.
Dan Poulis, who traveled from Reedsburg, said he felt the governor’s budget proposal would make what he described as an already sick economy even worse.
Diane Mutes, who volunteers at a Mauston food pantry, didn’t like the proposal to require drug tests for some forms of public assistance and disagreed with the potential major cut in the money going to the University of Wisconsin system.
Through the extensive criticism, Brooks and Marklein sat quietly and took notes on what they heard. They said little in defense of Walker.