Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jul 2012
Source: Post-Crescent, The (Appleton,  WI)
Copyright: 2012 The Post-Crescent
Author: Betsy Wojcik, Post-Crescent Community Columnist


Our state's hesitation to pass progressive laws and its attack on union 
workers has left it less desirable to younger generations. Young adults 
may be more inclined to move out of state to locales that better match 
their ideals and interests.

My husband and I moved back to Wisconsin after several years living in 
other states. We agreed that Wisconsin had the ideal mix of recreation, 
business and proximity to family that we wanted. However, many of our 
friends had already left the state or moved shortly after our return. I 
believe that this could be an indication of a larger trend related to 
recent policy changes or lack thereof.

Many young adults support same-sex marriage, yet our attorney general, 
J.B. Van Hollen, refuses to back down and let our state allow these 
unions. In the end, Wisconsin will lie on the wrong side of history on 
this issue while neighboring states like Iowa and Minnesota listened to 
the shifting opinions of residents.

As a young person who stands in support of same-sex marriage, I wish 
that all my friends and family could marry and that I lived in a state 
with a clearer vision of a more equal future.

It's perplexing to me that, when 55 percent of Wisconsin residents 
support same-sex marriage, our state officials would continue to waste 
time fighting on the issue. Meanwhile, hundreds of residents are left 
with their lives in flux.

Legalizing marijuana use is another hot topic that Wisconsin stands 
silent on. Neither medical marijuana nor common use is allowed in the 
state. This industry could create jobs and revenue that we need, 
especially after recent reports for the state left us 37th in the nation 
for job creation. Perhaps not so coincidentally, most of my out-of-state 
friends live in Washington and Colorado, places that have paved the way 
for legalizing marijuana.

The passing of laws allowing marijuana and same-sex marriage could be 
seen as an indication that a state is open-minded and willing to listen 
to the popular opinion of its residents. According to Gallup polling, 
more than half of the nation supports same-sex marriage and legalizing 
marijuana use.

The state also has become less desirable to young workers due to Gov. 
Scott Walker's policy changes three years ago.

A popular profession among many of my peers is teaching. Many of those 
who become teachers and don't have ties keeping them in the state are 
likely to look elsewhere for job placements as the repercussions of Act 
10 are being felt.

I've heard many horror stories about increasing workloads, insurance 
struggles and even contract breaches, but teachers have been left 
without a voice to negotiate for their rights.

Often, these issues are felt most by teachers just starting out in their 
careers. Higher salaries, more powerful unions and less hassle are 
strong temptations to draw teachers out of state and discourage others 
who would like to move back.

The inability of unions to help workers isn't limited to teachers. It 
affects many other professions that would otherwise be appealing to 
young professional workers, such as nursing and social work.

The upcoming governor election could bring some of these issues into 
play. Mary Burke stands in favor of same-sex marriage, medicinal 
marijuana and restoring union bargaining rights. Strong voter turnout 
among young voters could help Burke's chances.

Wisconsin policy just doesn't fit with the ideals and values of young 
adults. I'm proud to be a Wisconsinite and hope the voices of the 
younger generation will be heard to make the state a place everyone 
loves. Some things will hopefully never change - outstanding state 
colleges, beautiful recreation and great football.

Betsy Wojcik is a Winchester resident. She can be reached  ---
MAP posted-by: Matt