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State Assembly candidate Tara Johnson on Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law, public school funding, housing crisis



Tara Johnson in the WIZM studio Tuesday for La Crosse Talk PM on the housing crisis, funding public schools and Wisconsin’s 175-year-old abortion ban, as she runs for state Assembly in the 96th District.

La Crosse Talk PM airs weekdays at 5:06 p.m. Listen on the WIZM app, online here, or on 92.3 FM / 1410 AM / 106.7 FM (north of Onalaska). Find all the podcasts here or subscribe to La Crosse Talk PM wherever you get your podcasts.

Began the show getting a bit of Johnson’s experience. The Democrat was the first female president of the La Crosse County Board, where she was a member for 20 years, and was executive director of the United Way in La Crosse, before retiring in 2020.

The first big issues (7:30) Johnson said she’s heard from while campaigning was the state’s 175-year-old abortion ban law, and how the Legislature, controlled by Republicans, has addressed that.

After that, we got into education funding, and how many school districts continuously have to go to referendum to help improve schools, and how the state has never come through on what’s supposed to be ⅔ funding for schools.

And, before the big break, we also hit on Republicans’ refusal for well over a decade now to expand Medicaid in the state and why Johnson sees that as a must.

In the second half of the show (19:00) we got into more of Johnson’s experience on the county board and how that might transfer to the state Legislature.

We then transitioned (24:00) to the state having a $3.5 billion budget surplus for over 2.5 years now and what the Legislature could do with that extra funding.

Lastly, Johnson brought up (28:30) affordable housing and childcare, which kind of rolled into a homelessness conversation and how all three are intertwined.

Johnson is running in a primary election against Steven Campbell of Viroqua. The voting period for that ends Aug. 13. The winner will face Republican Loren Oldenburg, who is the defacto incumbent, but the 96th District will change next year as it inherits the south side of La Crosse and becomes much less rural. 

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. The Dude

    July 10, 2024 at 11:34 am

    Listening to Tara talk about the outdated 170 year old abortion bill being outdated , she then brings up a 50 year old outdated bill that she says we should be following for funding schools. Then she brings up the “federal money” that her opponent has opposed. What she does not take into account is just because the upfront money is available what are the long term implications and liabilities of taking those funds.

    As an example in our personal lives – RAM trucks are providing a $6,500 cash back (better take the money or else they will give it to someone else). The long term liability of taking that funding is that we need to make truck payments and have higher insurance on a new vehicle, etc.

    As shown in the example above you can see this is ludicrous to state half of the facts. Yes it is true that RAM is providing a $6,500 incentive but the trucks are $49-85k expenditure.

    In regard to schools, student enrollment is down and continually declining. Why are we continuing to follow the outdated educational system? Be progressive and fiscally responsible and promote technology and new methods for teaching vast amounts of students with limited resources. Innovate and devise new plans not the old outdated processes and policies that our educational system suffers from.

    Do a better job Tara and good luck in the race.

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