Funding for public education in Wisconsin is often confusing and complex. A 2019 report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, “Special Education Funding in Wisconsin: How it Works and Why it Matters,” examines the way we fund special education services to pupils in the state. It is an eye-opener and if you are concerned about education in general and the challenges state taxpayers (and school districts) face in providing these services, this is a must read.
The Wisconsin Policy Forum was created on Jan. 1, 2018, by the merger of the Madison-based Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance and the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum.
Attorney General Josh Kaul has asked Governor Tony Evers to include additional funding in Evers’ budget for more crime lab analysts. In his successful campaign for the post last November, Kaul attacked former Republican Attorney General and now Judge Brad Schimel for well-publicized delays in the processing of evidence from crime scenes.
Evers is currently working on his two-year budget, which the governor expects to unveil on Feb. 28.
As expected, Wisconsin’s two U.S. Senators, Ron Johnson (R) and Tammy Baldwin (D), split their vote to confirm new Attorney General Willima Barr to succeed acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. Barr, a former attorney general during the George H. W. Bush administration, was nominated to serve his second term in the office by President Trump. The vote to confirm was 54-45, with all Republican senators voting for Barr. Three Democrats broke rank and voted for Barr.
In opposing his nomination, Baldwin said, “I do not have the confidence I need that this nominee to be America’s top law enforcement official will provide the independence we must have at this critical time.” In a prepared statement, she added, “I am also troubled that Mr. Barr would not commit to making the Special Counsel’s report public because I believe the truth should be revealed to the American people when the investigation is concluded.”
A recent Associated Press article headlines: “Liberals eye 2020 takeover of Wisconsin Supreme Court.” The article continues: “Wisconsin liberals hope to take a key step this spring toward breaking a long conservative stranglehold on the state’s Supreme Court, in an election that could also serve as a barometer of the political mood in a key presidential swing state.
If the liberal-backed candidate wins the April 2 state Supreme Court race, liberals would be in prime position to take over the court when the next seat comes up in 2020 — during a presidential primary when Democrats expect to benefit from strong turnout.”
Governor Evers’ and the GOP-controlled legislature agree on one thing: a tax cut The problem is they disagree on how to pay for the tax cut.
Evers has indicated that he thinks that raising taxes on the some element of the state’s businesses is the correct roue. Republicans want to pay for the tax cut from projected future state revenue.
In an article from the MacIver Institute, which brands itself as “the Free Market Voice for Wisconsin,” a Republican State Senator, Patrick Testin, is quoted as saying, “This is not the time we should send out mixed messages within the state of Wisconsin that’s going to put any new development or growth on ice.”
Help get the word out to voters interested in the April 2 election to fill a vacancy on the state’s highest court that on Saturday, Feb. 23, Appeal Court Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer, who hopes to fill the vacancy, will be here in Green Lake. Judge Neubauer is making a campaign tour that Saturday with stops in Adams, Green Lake, Marquette and Waushara counties. Green Lake is the last stop on the tour and Judge Neubauer is expected to be in Green Lake at the Goose Blind between 4 and 4:45 p.m.
State Senator Luther Olsen, right, with Representative Joan Ballweg, left.
In his weekly newsletter to constituents, dated Feb. 8, State Sen. Luther Olsen reports the following:
“I am introducing two new pieces of legislation along with Representatives Mark Born and John Jagler regarding school operations and pupil data.
The first bill would allow a school administrator to warn a student before a fire, tornado or school safety drill, if it is in the best interest of the student. Under current law, these drills must be conducted without prior warning, but school administrators have highlighted that a warning would be helpful for students with disabilities, for example.
The second bill adds parents and guardians’ names to the statutory list of directory data. Under current law, information contained within a pupil’s record is confidential. School boards are permitted to disclose what is known as “directory data” without first getting permission from parents or guardians. The state law defines what is considered directory data. This includes a pupil’s name, address, phone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, photographs, degrees and awards received and the name of the school most recently previously attended by the pupil.
Schools are not required to include all of these items in their directory data list, but they cannot add any items that are not specified by law.
Missing from that list, under current law, are the names of the pupil’s parents or guardians. For safety reasons, there are scenarios where law enforcement or child welfare agencies might need to access that information. While there are limited circumstances under current law in which law enforcement and child welfare agencies can access additional information beyond what is considered directory data, by adding parent and guardian names to the directory data list, they will be able to access the information in a more timely manner.
We are currently circulating both bills for co-sponsorship and hope to introduce them shortly.”