- Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Democratic state representative who was a single parent says Gov. Scott Walker should apologize to Wisconsin’s single and unmarried parents for suggesting the key to success in life is getting married before having children.

Walker in his state budget address Wednesday promoted the “Success Sequence,” a concept developed by Brookings Institution researchers

“It is simple: graduate from school, get a job, and wait until you’re 21 and married to have a child,” the Republican said. “Research shows that those who do so are overwhelmingly more likely to succeed.”

State Rep. Amanda Stuck said his comments reminded her of what it felt like to be a single parent at 19. She said the world treated her like a failure but she worked hard and finished school.

Stuck, who is now married with two children, held a news conference Friday in Appleton asking Walker to apologize to successful single and unmarried parents across the state for his “close-minded” remarks. She was joined by Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Brostoff of Milwaukee, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and Teri Schneider, a former single mother.

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said the governor recognizes people achieve success from many different backgrounds, but research shows it’s easier if they follow the “sequence.”

Brookings Institution researchers Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill developed the Success Sequence in 2007. They argued that public policies that help people who want to have children wait until they’re older - including promoting marriage and ensuring access to birth control - can reduce poverty.

Conservative lawmakers have widely cited the research as they promoted policies that encourage marriage.

In his budget, Walker proposed spending $1 million on public messaging to promote the sequence and highlight challenges of teenage pregnancy and $50,000 to incorporate the sequence into school curriculums. He also extended the Earned Income Tax Credit to married couples and proposed ending benefits for state workers’ domestic partners. He said these benefits are no longer necessary now that same-sex marriage is legal in the state.

But Stuck said Walker is pushing marriage while limiting access to birth control. Two bills he signed last year cut an estimated $8 million of funding from Planned Parenthood.

“If the Governor wants women to wait until marriage to plan a pregnancy, maybe he should stop his vicious, ideological attack on women’s health in our state,” she said in a statement.


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