VOTE TUESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2020
Contact Michelle Bryant @ 414-499-2827
VOTE TUESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2020
Breaking Ground for a Better Future in the 6th Senate District!
Contact Michelle Bryant @ 414-499-2827
I am Michelle Bryant and I am running to be the next State Senator for our district. I have lived in the district for more than 15 years. In that time, we have faced many challenges that have required a strong voice, stronger advocacy, and a commitment to ensure that the district is treated fairly. We work hard, care for our homes, and need representatives who will not only fight to protect what we have, but help our community to grow.
Too often, the current leadership is slow to respond, silent on key issues like COVID-19 and our designation as an early hot spot, and the Strauss Meat Processing plant was a fiasco. Often, we were left to fend for ourselves, without adequate information or representation. We deserve better and I am running to change that.
I have helped another Senate district for over 15 years. I would like to put all that I have learned to work for you, our neighbors and this district! Together, we can create a community that is safe, growing, and that we can all be proud to call home.
Michelle Bryant is currently the Chief of Staff for Wisconsin State Senator Lena C. Taylor. Working in that capacity and as the Budget and Policy Director, Bryant staffed the Senator on the state’s powerful Joint Committee on Finance for a number of years. Bryant manages the day to day operations, staff and legislative agenda of Senator Taylor’s office.
Previous positions include AM Radio Talk Show Host, Campaign Manager Lakeshia Myers for State Assembly, Campaign Manager Lena Taylor for Senate, Political Director for Chris Abele for Milwaukee County Executive, Political Director for Mary Burke for Wisconsin Gubernatorial campaign, Executive Director of African World Festival, Ltd., Policy Analyst, and Legislative Staff and Unit Case Manager in Youth Residential services. Michelle is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, with a B.A in African-American Studies with a focus on Politics.
Bryant also hosted “The Morning Show” and “The Midweek Flow” on WNOV 860AM/106.5FM THE VOICE talk radio. Her shows, which were a mix of politics and current affairs, welcomed everyone from national political figures to the local Milwaukee Police Department. Bryant earned the community's respect by being well-informed and willing to ask the tough questions. She brought a dose of humor and love for music that made her show one of the best in the state.
Michelle has worked for over 25 years with public and private organizations to provide ongoing training around issues of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Bryant is a trusted facilitator that has developed and provided training, seminars, and curriculum to address issues of Affirmative Action, Transgender Work Policies, Diversity, Implicit Bias, Crisis Management, Cross-Cultural Communication and more.
Politically active with the Democratic Party since she was 11 years old, Michelle currently holds positions with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) to include Chair, of DPW Black Caucus, 4th Congressional District Secretary, and member of the DPW Administrative Committee.
Bryant has held positions previously with the 4th CD to include Admin Rep, as well as Vice Chair of the DPW Black Caucus. Bryant is also an EMERGE alum, former Center for Progressive Leadership Faculty member, and has participated in and facilitated a number of political trainings. In addition, Michelle is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. and earned a B.A from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Michelle is extremely proud of her son, Augustine ("Derrick"), Taylor, and her one-year old grandson, Atlas. Raised in both Birmingham, Alabama and Yonkers, New York, Michelle likes to say that she has been given the best of both worlds: Southern pragmatism and Northern tenacity. Although a transplant to Milwaukee, Michelle has immersed herself in the comunity and has certainly made Milwaukee her home.
If COVID-19 has done nothing , it has shown us the weakness in our systems, both on the national and state level. For far too often, we have linked health insurance to employment. When "Safer at Home" orders forced businesses to temporarily close their doors, many Wisconsinites lost their health care coverage.
We need to be better prepared to ensure that residents can get the medical care they need. We should at the very least expand Medicaid and accept federal dollars to help provide more coverage to Wisconsin residents. In taking the money we improve access to care, reduce uncompensated costs for hospitals and lower private health insurance offered through the ACA marketplace. We have an estimated 400,000 Wisconsin residents that are uninsured, of which nearly 40,000 of those are children. The state should do everything within our power to close the gap on the uninsured. I believe that health care is a right, not to be contingent upon income , employment, or socioeconomic status.
The damage done to educational continuity by the needed response to COVID-19 is going to have long term consequences for students, districts and the state. We need to ensure that districts have what they need to recoup lost learning, prepare for the fall and possibility that another Safer at Home Order may be needed.
As a product of public education and a parent that sent my child to public schools, I understand the importance of properly funded schools. The nearly billion dollars cut from the education budget during the Walker years has done damage to our systems, from K-12 through post-secondary institutions. Whether teacher retention, classroom management, course offerings, or graduation rates, we’ve paid a high price for inadequate funding.
Even with the campaign season reinvestments by Walker, the infusion of dollars did not account for years of damage done. I will always work to properly fund our schools, restoring cuts and factoring in inflation for those cuts.
We are going to need state, local goverenments,private developers and the medical community to work together to restore our economy and return jobs to Wisconsin. It will be through both public and private partnerships that we have our best shot at succeeding.
Traditionally, we have had legislators tell us what is "off limits" or a non-starter, when we have talked about how to increase revenue in the state. Yet, we know that typical revenue raising initiatives around property, income or sales taxes will be greatly hampered due to the fallout from COVID-19.
We have laws on the books, for example that dictate the state cut property taxes if we get money from any new sales taxes resulting from a federal law change. Many of us are familiar with the debate about online sales. While messaging has often been more important than legislating, we've missed opportunities to use new revenue opportunites to deal with our budget shortfalls. Going forward, very litlle should be "off the table".
We have roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US. According to the American Immigration Council, 75,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 24 percent of the Wisconsin immigrant population and 1 percent of the total state population in 2016. 6,640 active DACA recipients lived in Wisconsin as of 2019. 191,163 immigrant workers comprised 6 percent of the state's labor force in 2018. Undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin paid an estimated $156.9 million in federal taxes and $101.1 million in state and local taxes in 2018. Wisconsin DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals paid an estimated $15.9 million in state and local taxes in 2018.
These figures alone should motivate legislators to ensure that these workers remain connected to the workforce, including providing a means for them to obtain a legal driver's license. Our ban on these licenses is only 13 years old and prior to 2007, undocumented workers were able to obtain a driver's licenese in Wisconsin. I would work to restore the practice. While it will require some changes in the make-up of the legislature, more than 40 states and the District of Columbia, have enacted 176 laws and 253 resolutions related to immigration.
Many states/legislators are changing/re-evaluating their positions on how we deal with immigration issues on everything from, public health and health care, employment verification, driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, law enforcement, human trafficking, social services to unemployment payments due to COVID-19.
I would work with the Ever's administration on his proposal to restore driver's licenses to undocumented residents and lobby federal legislators to assist with changing these policies.
I have advocated for livable wages and a minimum wage of $15 an hour for years. It is unbelievable that we continue to have tipped workers, who work for less than minimum wage. I helped Sen. Taylor draft legislation to try to change that practice. When you look at the disparity in pay between CEO’s and frontline workers, it is evident that there is a problem. Small business owners will be stretched to offer such wages, but it is unacceptable that workers should carry burden of being underpaid alone. In actuality they don’t, taxpayers backfill those wages though social service programs.
The approach of the Legislature in easing the burden of student loan debt is multifaceted. First, we need to be honest about the predatory nature of some learning institutions and the loan products that they push to students, in our state. We have for profit programs that are outrageously priced and target low-income, minority, and first-generation college students. We need to continue to look at legislation that can address those concerns.
I also agree with the work of groups like NCSL, that encourage states to institute or beef-up legislation that addresses 5 key areas:
Now more than ever, there are clear examples of why collective bargaining is so needed for American workers. During this health pandemic, frontline and essential workers have had great difficulty securing protections that could have meant the difference between life and death. Workers deserved hazard pay, assistance with child care and more. Previous bargaining rights would have made this possible. I certainly would support and am willing to work for the repeal of Act 10.
The road to repeal may be long, so in the meantime there are other approaches that can help workers regain or improve working conditions.
I would take a look at the work of groups around the country and in Wisconsin that are trying to pass Workers’ Bill of Rights. We know that some of these have been geared toward specific professions/industries, such as Public Higher Education.
Whether it is sector by sector or comprehensive legislation impacting employment generally, I would work with other legislators to pass bills that continue to raise basic demands such as safety, adequate staffing levels, proper training and equipment, the right to refuse excessive overtime, family-supporting wages, and more.