Our economic recovery depends on addressing longstanding discrimination and barriers that have hampered women—including women of color—from fully participating in the labor force.
Based on the White House summary released today, the following is a summary of what we're celebrating in the revised Build Back Better plan. Please note that we recognize there is obviously more work to be done to address the economic and climate crises impacting our communities, and many desperately needed provisions are not included.
Expansion of Affordable Health Care
Investments in Children & Caregiving
Improve Economic Security
Combat the Climate Change Crisis
Modernize & Improve Immigration Laws
Fully Funded by Making the Wealthy Make Their Fair Share
Taken together, the Build Back Better Agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will make critical investments we need to build our economy and our communities back better than ever.
We know there are key provisions that have been taken out of the plan like paid family medical leave but we are continuing to fight to ensure state and national leaders advance the policies to improve women's health, safety, and economic security.
Take a moment to call your congressional representatives and tell them you support the Build Back Better agenda as released today.
Wisconsin Republicans Must Stop Playing Political Games with Women’s Health
So-Called “Pro-Life” Caucus Refuses to Care About Health & Lives of Wisconsinites
MADISON – As residents of our state continue to struggle under the weight of the still raging COVID pandemic, the State’s legislative majority insists on putting politics before people. Instead of prioritizing legislation that would immediately improve the health, lives and economic security of Wisconsin families, leaders in the State Capitol choose to spend their days pushing an extreme political agenda completely out of touch with voters.
“It’s infuriating to watch the legislative majority in our state rush through dangerous policies under a so-called “Time for Life” agenda,” notes Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health Executive Director Sara Finger. “It’s time that we call out the hypocrisy and recognize how little the GOP actually cares about the health and lives of Wisconsin women and their families.”
While a growing list of positive, evidence-based bills are blatantly ignored, the Republican majority in the State Senate and State Assembly are making clear choices indicating where their priorities lie. The following is a list of powerful policies available now for our legislature to take up and pass if they authentically cared about the lives of Wisconsin women and babies:
White House FACT SHEET: How the Build Back Better Framework Will Support Women’s Employment and Strengthen Family Economic Security
How the Build Back Better Framework Will Support Women’s Employment and Strengthen Family Economic Security
Despite the progress our nation has made over the last four months, there remain two million fewer women in the workforce than there were before the pandemic struck – taking a toll on our economy and on millions of families across the country. Thirty years of progress in women’s labor force participation has been eroded; millions of women are still struggling to return to the workforce. And while the pandemic has exacerbated this reality, many of the challenges facing women aren’t new. Historically, women have typically held jobs with lower wages and fewer benefits and protections. Women of color are even more likely to work in jobs that have lower wages and few benefits and protections.
Our economic recovery depends on addressing longstanding discrimination and barriers that have hampered women—including women of color—from fully participating in the labor force. One economist finds the President’s plan, and especially its investments in the care economy, would increase labor force participation by almost a full percentage point—with even greater gains for women—and boost the economy’s real GDP growth by 10 to 15 basis points in the long-term. Increasing women’s labor force participation is also critical to supporting America’s working families, including the over 4 in 10 mothers – disproportionately women of color – who are sole or primary breadwinners for their families, contributing significantly to their families’ total earnings.
When women are better off, we’re all better off. The Build Back Better Agenda rests on our commitment to ensuring every American is given a fair shot to get ahead in this country. It will strengthen our families, our communities, and our nation by making bold and necessary investments in women’s employment and ensure a broad and deep recovery – one on which the success of the entire U.S. economy rests. Our economy cannot reach its full potential when half of the population is forced to leave their jobs, cut back on their hours, or unable to access good jobs. These issues are not simply women’s issues. They are issues that affect all families, our economy’s stability and growth, and our nation’s competitiveness.
Supporting Women’s Caregiving Needs
Too many American women struggle with the high costs of raising children, caring for a sick family member, providing long-term care for people with disabilities or older adults, and addressing the myriad other caregiving challenges. Although professional care is costly for families, caregivers themselves - disproportionately women of color - remain some of the most underpaid workers in the country, often having to rely on public income supports to get by. And, many American women fill the gap in professional caregiving options by providing unpaid care to their loved ones, often causing them to reduce working hours, choose lower-paying jobs, or leave the labor force entirely.
In part due to the lack of family friendly policies, the United States has fallen behind its competitors in the share of women in the labor force. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that does not guarantee paid leave -- 95 percent of the lowest wage workers, who tend to be predominately women and workers of color, lack any access to paid family leave. Only 57 percent of children under six years old have parents who report there are good choices for child care where they live. And, high costs and increasing shortages of care for disabled and elderly people leave many to rely on unpaid caregiving – more than one in six adult women are unpaid eldercare providers. One study estimates that women who leave the labor force early to care for elderly parents lose $330,000  in lifetime wages and Social Security benefits.
Research shows investments in the care economy would increase employment, especially for women, reducing the gender employment divide. Not only would this support women’s economic security, it would lead to a more robust and equitable economy. The President’s Build Back Better plan:
Strengthening Family Economic Security
When households do not have enough income, they are forced to make impossible trade-offs between paying for rent, education, healthcare, and food. These choices have consequences and limit the investments made in oneself and one’s children. The Build Back Better agenda makes significant investments to increase household stability and economic security.
Expanding Education, Training, and Job Opportunities for Women
The Build Back Better agenda will ensure that the economy is built on a foundation of equity, by strengthening the education and workforce pipeline for more women to obtain high-quality in-demand jobs. These workforce development investments are based on evidence-based approaches to supporting workers, including women and people of color. Some of these approaches include wraparound services –such as child care and transportation – income supports, counseling, and case management, paired with high-quality training and effective partnerships between educational institutions, unions, and employers. These investments will ensure jobs have fair and equal pay, safe and healthy workplaces, and that workplaces are free from racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination and harassment. They will also help more women enroll in college, reduce their need to rely on student debt, and ensure they have the supports they need to complete their training program, certificate or degree.
The President’s Build Back Better plan:
Investments in Wisconsin Women & Girls Eliminated from State Budget
State Legislative Majority Puts Politics Over People
MADISON – Statement from Sara Finger, Executive Director and Founder of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH)
“To say the approved State Budget missed the mark on safeguarding and advancing the health, safety, and economic security of women and girls -- would not be saying nearly enough”
“While Governor Evers proposed a State Budget filled with evidence based measures to improve the health and lives of Wisconsin women and their families, the GOP majority in the State Legislature denied all of these opportunities and failed to make the investments needed to help women in our state recover and thrive following the pandemic.”
“State budgets are moral documents that offer a powerful reflection of our leaders’ collective priorities. Our current state legislative leaders have insulted Wisconsin women with their budget and have failed to prioritize the health, safety and economic security of families in our state.”
“By refusing to extend BadgerCare coverage to 91,000 Wisconsinites, removing critical funds to support women of color led efforts to disrupt maternal and child health disparities in our state, and decimating support for family care givers, the State Legislature continues to ignore the health care needs of communities devastated by COVID.”
“Our greatest frustration lies with a final budget that fails to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to one full year following the birth of a child. Once again, our legislative leaders have ignored the evidence and the voices of mothers across our state. The GOP’s gesture of pacification to extend coverage for one more month that currently offered, falls far short of the expert recommendations and is insufficient to make a difference for moms and babies in our state.”
“And while health care leaders like the Wisconsin Medical Society have declared racism as a public health crisis, our State Legislature has blatantly dismissed any such crisis and has denied communities of color in our state a budget that invests in health and racial equity.”
“We remain committed to working with the Evers Administration and champions in the Capitol to advance our shared policy vision outside of the budget process. Wisconsin women still deserve to be heard, and we won’t stop holding our leaders accountable for their failures to invest in our health, safety, and economic security.”
Update from Raising Women's Voices
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the existence of the ACA even more important, as millions of people have lost their jobs and/or their health coverage at exactly the time when affordable health care is critically important. The new Biden administration COVID relief plan, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is helping to make ACA health plans even more affordable – at least on a temporary basis. Health advocates hope such changes can be made permanent in the future.
Starting next week, April 1, much needed relief is coming to COVID-weary Americans who cannot afford to buy or keep their health coverage. Thanks to the ARPA, low- and middle-income people will get more financial assistance than ever in American history to buy high quality health plans on their own. An estimated 14.9 million uninsured people will now qualify for financial assistance to buy their own health plan through HealthCare.gov, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The ARPA COVID relief package will help people afford health coverage in three main ways. The first two improve the affordability of private ACA health plans sold through HealthCare.gov or state insurance marketplaces:
The ARPA has an additional provision to help people who lost their jobs keep their employer-sponsored coverage. COBRA is the federal law that enables people to remain on a former employer’s health plan for 18 months, or longer in some states, by paying the premiums themselves. However, many people have found this option to be unaffordable. Now the federal government will pay 100% of the monthly premiums for six months (April - September 2021) for anyone who involuntarily lost their employer-based coverage and opts for COBRA. This relief, although temporary, makes COBRA a much more attractive short-term option.
On February 16th, Governor Tony Evers outlined his groundbreaking and forward-thinking 2021-2023 Budget Proposal. He included a wide range of initiatives that get to the heart of making a difference in Wisconsinites' lives.
If you're interested in viewing Governor Evers' entire budget proposal, you can do so here. But to make it easier for you, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health has analyzed and scrutinized the 717-page document and crafted a summary of the items we're excited about in Governor Evers' budget:
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health will continue to advocate for these and other important budget items that are critical in achieving our vision: Every Wisconsin woman - at every age and every stage of life - is able to reach her optimal health, safety and economic security.
Here's what you can do to help ensure these items remain in the budget to be passed by our State Legislature:
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health is proud to join with over 100 other organizations in Wisconsin calling on the Joint Finance Committee to hold Budget Hearings virtually for public safety and accessibility
February 18, 2021
To: The Joint Finance Committee
Cc: Governor Evers, Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu, Senate Minority Leader Bewley, Speaker Vos, Assembly Minority Leader Hintz, Members of the Legislature
Dear Co-Chairs Marklein and Born,
The state budget process is one of the most important policy discussions that legislators, the Governor’s staff, and advocacy groups engage in together. At the heart of the state budget is the belief that our state’s values are reflected in the decisions that are made about how we spend our state’s tax dollars. But, it is also true that robust public engagement in making these decisions is a value in and of itself. As advocacy organizations representing various issues, geographic reach, and constituency bases, it is essential that we reach out to you as the Co-Chairs of the Joint Finance Committee to offer our support for making the 2021-2022 State Budget hearings be as productive and inclusive as possible. While we represent far ranging and diverse populations, we are united in wanting to make sure that every person who wants to participate in the JFC hearings, and other legislative hearings this session, can do so safely.
Because of the known risks with large public gatherings due to Covid-19 and the uncertainty about when it will be safe for all members of the public to attend, we as member-based organizations cannot in good conscience encourage our members to risk their health to attend large public hearings. Many of our members are at higher risk of developing life-threatening health issues due to age or underlying health conditions. Some of our members are from communities that have been especially hard hit by the COVID pandemic, such as people of color, who are at higher risk for adverse outcomes from a COVID infection. In addition, there is concern that not adequately following public health guidance for large public gatherings will further strain our health care system, which we all benefit in keeping COVID care from overwhelming.
The below signed advocacy groups are asking you, in your discretion as chairs, to make the following virtual and remote options available for public testimony to the JFC committee and ability to formally register their positions on the state budget:
The below signed groups and our members wish to support a state budget process that welcomes the voices and experience of all people in Wisconsin during this critical time. We believe these suggestions will help you and other members of the committee run a state budget hearing process that we can all be proud of together.
1000 Friends of Wisconsin
A Better Wisconsin Together
ACLU of Wisconsin
African American Roundtable, Inc.
AFSCME Council 32
All Voting Is Local
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin
Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin
Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin
Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC)
Black Lives Matter to Wisconsin Unitarian Universalists
Blue Sky Waukesha
Central Wisconsin ADAPT
Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance, Inc.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin
Citizen Advocates for Public Education
Coalition For Justice
Common Cause Wisconsin
Common Cause Wisconsin
Consumer Direct Care Network
Crawford Stewardship Project
Disability Rights Wisconsin
Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin
Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO)
First Baptist Church of Madison
For Our Future Wisconsin
Harambee Village Doulas
Interfaith Earth Network
League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
LOV Inc, Living Our Visions Inclusively
Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin
Madtown Mommas and Disability Advocates
Main Street Alliance
Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, Inc.
Midwest Environmental Advocates
Milwaukee Branch NAACP
Milwaukee County Human Rights Commission
Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH)
Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force
Milwaukee Zen Center
NAACP Milwaukee Branch
Northern Wisconsin NORML
People First Wisconsin
People of Progression
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin
Protect Our Care Wisconsin
Rid Racism Milwaukee
River Alliance of Wisconsin
Schools and Communities United
Sierra Club Wisconsin
Souled Out Ministries INC
Souls To The Polls
Southeastern Wisconsin ADAPT
Survival Coalition of WI Disability Advocacy Organizations
The Arc Greater Columbia County
The Arc Wisconsin
The Arc-Dane County
UFCW Local 1473
Waupaca County ARC Inc.
WI Association of Family & Children's Agencies
WI Board for People with Developmental Disabilities
WI Conference NAACP
WI Early Childhood Association
Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network
Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools
Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers, Inc.
Wisconsin Conservation Voters
Wisconsin Council of Churches
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Wisconsin Education Association Council
Wisconsin Environmental Health Network
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training & Support (WI FACETS)
Wisconsin Farmers Union
Wisconsin Green Muslims
Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action
Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light
Wisconsin Justice Initiative
Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association
Wisconsin Long Term Care Workforce Alliance
Wisconsin Muslim Civic Alliance
Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association
Wisconsin Public Education Network
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation
Wisconsin's Green Fire
Youth Justice Milwaukee
From our partners at Raising Women's Voices:
News about the Trump-backed lawsuit to repeal the ACA, which will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 10, has no doubt created confusion about whether the ACA will continue to exist. Moreover, Trump’s nomination of Barrett, who has openly spoken out against the ACA, to fill the seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death has further increased public uncertainty about the future of the ACA. That’s why it’s important to let people know that as of now, nothing has changed, and the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.
While the lawsuit challenging the ACA will go before the court next month, no decision on it will be released until next June (the traditional time period for SCOTUS decisions to be handed down). Moreover, it is possible that SCOTUS would strike down only the individual mandate provision of the ACA, not the entire legislation. Exactly that possibility was raised prominently during Barrett’s confirmation hearing in a discussion about the “severability” of one portion of a law that is found to be unconstitutional from the remainder of the legislation, which would still stand.
So, how should we reassure people who may be eligible for ACA coverage and encourage them to apply starting November 1? Here are some of the key messages that we want to get out for Open Enrollment:
Election Day is ON.
While Governor Evers tried to postpone today's election for the safety of Wisconsinites, the State Supreme Court order the election to take place.
We know it's been incredibly confusing, so here's some information to help you navigate today's election day:
You can vote in person at the polls until 8:00 PM. You still need ID. You can still register to vote at the polls. These rules have not changed.
If you have an absentee ballot in hand, you can still mail it! ALL ABSENTEE BALLOTS MUST BE POSTMARKED OR RETURNED TO YOUR CLERK'S OFFICE, DESIGNATED POLLING PLACE, OR DROP BOX (IF AVAILABLE) BEFORE 8:00 PM ON APRIL 7th.
If you plan to mail your absentee ballot, be sure to take it to a post office so it will be postmarked with a date. Dropping your ballot in a neighborhood collection box will not ensure that it's postmarked on April 7th. Ballots postmarked after April 7th will not be counted.
Clerks will be allowed to continue counting mailed absentee ballots as they are received, until April 13th, as long as they are postmarked by April 7th. Because of this we won't know election results until April 13th.
VOTING AT THE POLLS
Voters are still assigned to designated polling places (like normal) BUT YOUR POLLING PLACE MIGHT NOT BE WHERE IT USUALLY IS. Check with your municipal clerk to make sure you are headed to the right place. Find your clerk here: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyMunicipalClerk
Due to a shortage of poll workers, many cities have had to drastically reduce the number of polling places, and in some areas, you might have to drive to another town to vote.
MORE ABOUT ABSENTEE BALLOTS
If you requested an absentee ballot but did not receive it yet, you can vote in person at your polling place. The poll worker will be able to tell that you had requested an absentee ballot and may ask you if you received it and if you already returned it. Because you didn't receive it yet, you will be issued a new ballot and may vote at the polls.
Likewise, if you received your absentee ballot, but did not return it yet, you will be issued a new ballot and may vote at the polls.
As long as you haven't already returned an absentee ballot (by mail, drop off, or any other method) -- you have the right to be issued a new ballot and vote in person on election day.
If you received your absentee ballot, and already returned it (with or without a witness signature or other statement), you will not be allowed to vote at the polling place.
There are no in-person ballot drop offs allowed after April 7th -- including for print-at-home ballots. If you are utilizing a drop box on election day, be sure to check the "last pickup time" and don't wait until the last minute. Clerks will be emptying drop boxes before 8:00 so they can get the ballots back to their office by the 8:00 PM deadline.
Report problems with absentee ballots here: https://www.wheresmyballotwi.org/
If you have questions, or need help or additional resources, Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)!
From the Raising Women's Voices :
Today, Congress is expected to give final approval to a $2.2 trillion relief package designed to respond to both the health and economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The president has said he will sign it. Called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the package is also known as “phase 3” because two earlier COVID-related funding bills have already been enacted (including one we covered last week), this week’s package is the largest spending bill (by far) ever passed in the United States — 2.8 times bigger than the 2009 stimulus package. The bill came together quickly over the course of 10 days and was negotiated largely without public input.
There have been conflicting reports about what the package does and does not do, and we may not know for weeks what certain provisions mean in practice or how the administration is going to implement them. But we can give you a sense of the top line impact on women and families.
Based on our initial reviews of the legislation, the bill does the following things:
As massive as the package is, however, it almost certainly doesn’t go far enough in helping families, funding health care or preparing for the future. One indication of how deep the looming recession is likely to be: initial unemployment claims spiked to 3.3 million last week, more than quadrupling the highest number of initial jobless claims ever recorded in the US. (For contrast, initial unemployment claims peaked at 665,000 during the Great Recession.)
Members of Congress are already talking about a possible “phase 4” COVID-19 package. But alarmingly, both chambers are preparing to recess for weeks without a clear plan in place for how to vote (or meet with constituents) in the face of this once-in-a-century pandemic. What happens if our senators and representatives can’t fly back to Washington for a vote? How can Congress hold the Trump administration accountable for their disastrous handling of the pandemic, or push for increased production of health care equipment, if they aren’t here?
Sara Finger, Executive Director