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Wisconsin Weekly is a roundup of the week’s top stories from around the state by Wisconsin Watch and trusted news outlets. Access to some stories may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing, and sign up to get our free newsletters here

In this issue:

  • More funding for local governments, schools passes with strings attached
  • Wisconsin statutes still discriminate against same-sex couples
  • Abortion bans driving away doctors in Wisconsin and elsewhere

Of note: Milwaukee County household income falls in the middle nationally, but infant care at about $16,000 a year ranks in the top 3%. That disparity is causing many parents to exit the workforce, Tyler Dedrick reports. On Friday morning at 2:30 a.m. the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee voted to end the state’s pandemic-era federally funded Child Care Counts program, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers had proposed continuing after February with $340 million in state funding over the next two years. The program has provided financial assistance to child care providers to help them stay in business as more parents work from home.

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Matthew DeFour

Statehouse bureau chief

Child care

A scale with a bag of money on the heavier side and a baby on the other side.
Milwaukee County residents on average spent 15% to 26% of their income for child care, depending on the type of service, federal data show. That disproportionately forces county parents to make tough choices — such as whether to leave careers to stay home with children, risking harm to their finances and the economy. (Amena Saleh / Wisconsin Watch)

Some Milwaukee County parents leaving workforce due to sky-high child care costs

Wisconsin Watch — June 15, 2023


Downtown Milwaukee is seen in this aerial view, shot with a drone, near the Milwaukee Art Museum on July 8, 2021. (Coburn Dukehart and Isaac Wasserman / Wisconsin Watch)

Local funding, K-12 education deal passes Legislature

The Associated Press — June 14, 2023

The Republican-controlled Legislature this week approved the biggest compromise yet with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, giving more state aid to local governments and public and private K-12 schools, and allowing cash-strapped Milwaukee to raise a sales tax to stave off severe service cuts. The deal also:

The bill needed Democratic support in the Senate to pass. Six Senate Democrats voted for it, and seven Senate Republicans voted against.


Jamie Gaffke, left, and her wife, Ruth Vater, went to the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville, Wis., in 2014 to secure both of their parental rights for their first son. Because of a lack of updated state laws, same-sex parents in Wisconsin worry their parental rights won’t be honored by future court or administrative decisions. (Joey Prestley / Wisconsin Watch)

Wisconsin law still refers to husband and wife, a reminder to LGBTQ+ families that their rights are at risk

Wisconsin Watch — June 16, 2023

Wisconsin is one of only two states that include the word “husband” in their primary definition of “parent.” While many states have updated their statutes to include neutral language in the eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage the law of the land, Wisconsin has resisted such change.


States like Wisconsin that ban abortion are seeing fewer doctors apply to serve residencies in obstetrics and gynecology in the state, new statistics show. Here, attendees at a June 22, 2022 protest after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal abortion rights. Protesters called on Wisconsin state lawmakers to repeal the current criminal abortion ban, which remains in effect. (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch)

Abortion bans in Wisconsin, elsewhere driving off doctors

KFF Health News — June 12, 2023

Three out of four current or future doctors say they won’t practice in a state such as Wisconsin that bans abortion, according to a survey earlier this year. Wisconsin saw 8% fewer applications for OB-GYN residencies. That means Wisconsin’s existing doctor shortage will likely get worse.

Previously from The Associated Press:


Wisconsin Republicans sowed distrust over elections. Now they may push out the state’s top election official.

ProPublica — June 15, 2023

The future for Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Megan Wolfe remains unclear. One member of the WEC and the Republican president of the state Senate say they won’t support Wolfe getting a second term. Her term ends July 1.


Ash from coal-burning power plants such as this plant in Oak Creek, Wis., would be more tightly regulated under rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch)

EPA proposes to expand its regulations on dumps of toxic waste from burning coal

Inside Climate News — June 13, 2023

Wisconsin has 14 coal ash dumping sites. A new EPA rule would extend federal regulation over the half-billion tons of toxic waste that has accumulated in those and other sites across the country. Many of the sites are in low-income areas and communities of color.

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