Like most people in our nation, I believe we need a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence; one that includes the enactment of reasonable gun laws as part of an overall strategy to keep our kids safe. Tragically our political system has failed to deliver on this time and time again and kids are dying as a result.
Today too many politicians blame mental illness for every shooting and use it as an excuse to do nothing about the gun side of the equation. The result is tragedy.
There is a lot we can do to stop the carnage; an approach that better addresses both mental illness and guns could make a real difference. Unfortunately, the NRA playbook doesn’t seem to allow for that. And too many politicians are following that playbook- blaming mental illness, doing nothing.
So to those with the power to enact change: We’re tired of excuses; we want action and we want it now. It’s time to come together as adults who owe it to our children to make their world a better, safer place. It doesn’t need to be this difficult.
I have called on Governor Walker and Speaker Ryan to pass the following common sense reforms to make sure dangerous people don’t have access to dangerous weapons:
Stephanie Wilson Miller
The effects of mental illness are far reaching, affecting classrooms, families, and workplaces. Dane County is stepping up and increasing our commitment to get help to those in need and address mental health challenges.
Launched in 2013, our school based mental health teams are now making a difference for hundreds of students and families across Dane County. These teams of mental health professionals are available to help if a mental health crisis occurs but also to work with students and teachers to identify students struggling with mental illness before it becomes a crisis.
After hearing from school districts, teachers and parents of the success of the teams we have been working to locate more funding to help more school districts. In my 2017 budget every school district that wants a team in their district will have one.
We must continue to work with our schools and families to get kids the help they need and allow teachers to focus on teaching. Our schools cannot do it all, the county, the non-profit sector and families must all help make sure our next generation of young minds is being given the opportunity to succeed. I am proud to help further Dane County’s commitment to the next generation.
Dane County Executive
We welcome in 2017 with an optimism that Dane County will continue to serve our residents in an inclusive and respectful manner, building community engagement and values.
Specifically, the County Board will be working to make long-term improvements to the Dane County jail. Last year, Dane County made short-term repairs to address the immediate life and safety issues in our jail facilities, including fire safety measures, lock improvements, and electrical system repairs. This year we will analyze options to address the long-term safety and viability issues for the jail.
As a reminder, the Dane County Jail currently includes the downtown Public Safety Building, the 6-7th floors of the City-County Building, as well as the Huber work release facility near the Alliant Energy Center. The top two floors of City-County Building, which date back to 1954, face significant safety issues and house both maximum security inmates and those struggling with mental health issues.
In 2015, the County Board rejected expensive proposals to building a new jail, instead opting to implement short-term repairs and explore renovation/expansion of the Public Safety Building downtown. A report, recently commissioned by the board includes:
A central component of the County’s long-term corrections reform strategy includes reducing racial disparities, providing alternatives to incarceration (including restorative justice programs as well as veterans and mental health courts), reforming bail, and expedited booking. These efforts contribute to a slightly lower projection of number of inmates over time, which is promising considering the anticipated growth in Dane County over the next decade.
We note, however, that black inmates are still very disproportionately represented in the jail (38% of the jail population) and black inmates are held for significantly longer (over 30% longer). So there is a lot more work to do.
The report offers two long-term recommendations for replacing the outdated, unsafe space on the 6 & 7th floors of the City County Building by expanding the existing downtown Public Safety Building either by (1) vertically add four floors or (2) horizontally expanding the footprint. Both strategies are outlined in two phases and would cost between $120-135 million.
This continues to be a costly and challenging issue. Please review the report and let us know what you think – you can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or Schmidt.email@example.com.
This fall I introduced my 2017 budget An Investment for Our Future . It makes unprecedented investments in compassionate services for our most vulnerable residents , infrastructure critical to continued economic vitality and safety, along with a quality of life that creates an environment where families and businesses can flourish.
This budget is a clear statement of the priority Dane County places on green energy – harnessing the power of the sun to run our facilities and capturing naturally occurring bio-gas, converting it into millions of dollars of revenue to sustain services – and mitigating and adapting to the challenges of a changing climate.
2017 will be Dane County’s cleanest, greenest budget ever. I am proposing more than $2 million in new solar development, more than doubling all of county government’s total solar energy production portfolio next year alone. While the state continues its inaction on climate change, Dane County will lead the way by creating an Office of Climate Change and Energy that will coordinate efforts across the county.
My Human Services budget totals over $294 million and includes new and expanded efforts to address barriers to our young people learning and their families succeeding. Together with Madison School District we are creating a fourth Mental Health Crisis Team for the school district to ensure all four high school attendance areas have dedicated groups of professionals focused on the needs of our young people.
The efforts this budget undertakes reflect the values we hold so dear. Good wages, educational achievement, reducing economic and racial disparities, improved mental health, cleaner waters and conservation, safer roads for both cars and bikes, and housing for those who have fallen on hard times.
For more information on Dane County’s 2017 Budget go to: https://countyofdane.com/exec/budget.aspx
Dane County Executive
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