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.”
Members of Wisconsin’s Republican Party appear pleased with the amount of money raised over the last half of 2018 by conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn. Hagedorn is running against Judge Lisa Neuibauer in the April 2 election for a seat on the court being vacated by retiring Judge Shirley Abrahamson.
According to their figures, Hagedorn raised over $310,000 in the last half of the year. According to a post on the wisgop.org website, “The announcement is a sign of a strong campaign with a message that is resonating across Wisconsin. This end-of-year haul has surpassed the top fundraising totals of nearly all recent Supreme Court candidates in the last six months of a year leading up to an April election.”
According to another report, Hagedorn’s total is “almost three times as much as Screnock and almost $100,000 more than Justice Rebecca Dallet raised at this point in the campaign.”
“At stake is more than just one Supreme Court seat. If conservatives fail to win this seat, the Democrats will just be one Spring election in 2020, held at the same time as their presidential primary, from being able to accomplish all of their Progressive dreams by judicial fiat. If the Democrats gain control of the Court, they can rewrite the legislative district lines just like they have in other states. They can override the legislature and mandate school spending levels – which will mean even higher taxes. They can undo all of the reforms of the Walker era without ever having to go through the legislature.
Instead of focusing on the presidential election, everything that matters in Wisconsin is on the line right now.”
As referenced in a previous post about the Wisconsin GOP-led deal with Foxconn and the massive tax breaks given to the foreign technology company, Bloomberg Business Week issued an in-depth report that suggests that all is not well with the project, despite President Trump’s intervention.
To develop its report, Bloomberg interviewed dozens of people familiar with the project. Its conclusion, “A huge tax break was supposed to create a manufacturing paradise, but interviews with 49 people familiar with the project depict a chaotic operation unlikely to ever employ 13,000 workers.”
The Chair’s Corner is a new feature on the Green Lake County Dems and Friends website. Periodically, I will share my thoughts about what is happening in our organization and other items of interest. This first edition includes fun, facts, a feature and a fantastic website. I hope you enjoy it.
Everyone wants to have fun and we did that at our last meeting on Saturday, February 2. We celebrated Groundhog Day (Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring.) with a potluck. We had great food and interesting conversations with new and old friends. Fun is essential to building a strong community.
Here are the facts about early voting and absentee voting by mail. The spring election is April 2, 2019. Absentee ballots can be requested now through Thursday, March 28. When the clerks receive the official ballots, they will mail them. The clerks must receive the completed ballots by Election Day. In person early voting can begin as soon as the clerks receive the ballots; they will have them no later than March 11. Each clerk decides when early voting begins. Contact your local clerk for details. The last day to vote early in person is March 29, the Friday before the election.
There are no primary elections in Green Lake County or Ripon. The April 2, 2019 spring election is important. Judges Lisa Neubauer and Brian Hagedorn are on the ballot for the Justice of the State Supreme Court (10-year term). Information on both candidates is found on our website. Mark Gundrum, incumbent, is on the ballot for Court of Appeals Judge, District II (6-year term). Jerry Jaye, incumbent, and Doug Iverson, Ripon attorney and city alderman, are on the ballot for municipal judge for Lakeside Municipal Court (4-year term). Ripon and all of the cities in Green Lake County are included in this district. Municipal courts handle items such as traffic violations.
We had a lively discussion on local elections in Green Lake County and the city of Ripon. People are inspired to get involved in their communities and in local politics. There is one open seat with no candidate on the ballot in the city of Green Lake, District 2. There can be a write in campaign for that position.
Our Feature is a Meet and Greet Event for Supreme Court Justice candidate Lisa Neubauer on February 23 at the Goose Blind in Green Lake. This is a non- partisan race. Everyone is invited to meet Lisa, Chief Judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and get her views on the role of a Supreme Court Justice. We hope everyone comes and invites family and friends.
We are living our motto, “Moving Forward Together”. Let’s keep it up.
One of the strengths of an organization is its ability to marshal resources for the common good. In our case, our members are alerting us to information on issues and elected officials through two new sections of our website: Issues and We’re Watching … If you have not visited them, click on their links.
Additionally, members and friends alert us to new, addition sources of information. For example, Ken Knight recently sent us information on the Wisconsin Budget Project, an independent Madison-based research group that focuses on tax and budget policy. The group also works with Kids Forward (formerly the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families) which looks at issues important to families and kids, through the lens of how taxes and how the state budget impacts them.
Here is a link to the Wisconsin Budget Project website and one to its Facebook Page. We think you will find both to be of considerable value. Note that you can also sign up on its website to receive email updates (something you can also do here if you want to receive email updates for our website).
Policy areas that are included on its website include: