DPI Posts Info on Licensure Changes

By John Forester | September 27, 2017

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) posted new information this morning regarding licensure changes made in the 2017-19 State Budget.  Specifically, this information deals with the Lifetime License for Educators adopted in the budget bill.  The DPI also notes that they will have a full budget summary available in just a few days.

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Vinehout Launches Bid for Governor

By John Forester | September 25, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, formally kicked off her guv campaign today with a more than four-minute video, calling for Wisconsin’s own health care solution and a leader who listens.

Vinehout, who also planned a formal announcement later today in Black River Falls, says in the video she’s created four alternative budgets to show how she’d put “the people first” with Wisconsin’s resources.

“Wisconsin needs a real leader, a leader who listens, who does their homework and focuses on solving the problems people have in their daily lives,” Vinehout says.

In the video, Vinehout says her dad was a union laborer and her mom a nurse and she was able to go to college even though it was difficult to afford. She was later a college professor, but became a full-time dairy farmer and decided to get involved in politics. She said she ran for state Senate because she didn’t have health insurance and she wanted to change that for farmers and small business people paying “way too much” for poor insurance.

“I knew there was a better way, and that’s what got me involved in politics,” she says in the video.

Watch the video here.

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Low Spending Districts Concerned with Walker Veto

By John Forester | September 25, 2017

Check out this news story on Channel 3000 regarding the Governor’s low revenue veto and its impact on low revenue districts.  Superintendents Barb Sramek (Marshall) and Mary Pfeiffer (Neenah) are quoted.

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Evers Delivers State of Education Address

By John Forester | September 21, 2017

State Superintendent Tony Evers delivered his State of Education address today before an audience of school superintendents and invited guests at the State Capitol in Madison. He used “The Man in the Arena” passage from President Teddy Roosevelt’s 1910 “Citizenship in a Republic” speech as a backdrop to the call for leadership in these challenging times.

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SAA News Release On Budget, Low Revenue Veto

By John Forester | September 21, 2017

The SAA has issued a news release thanking Governor Walker and the legislature for their investments in K12 education.  We also expressed our disappointment at Governor Walker’s veto of the increase to the low revenue ceiling.

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Governor to Sign Budget, Veto Low Revenue Ceiling Upper

By John Forester | September 21, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Gov. Scott Walker will sign the biennial budget today at Tullar Elementary School in Neenah.

He announced 99 vetoes ahead of today’s signing, including wiping out an Assembly GOP plan to boost low-spending school districts.

The provision for low-spending districts, now capped at $9,100 per student, would have boosted their revenue limit to $9,300 in 2017-18 and $9,400 in 2018-19. The limit on what they spend would then increase $100 per year through 2022-23, when it would be $9,800 per student.

Other items that Walker plans to use his veto pen on include a provision giving lawmakers more input on the board that makes decisions on state employee’s health care and the creation of a state prosecutor board.

See Wisconsin State Journal coverage here.

See Wisconsin Public Radio coverage here.

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Governor Releases Budget Vetoes

By John Forester | September 20, 2017

The Governor’s office has released the Governor’s state budget vetoes.  We have pasted the Public Instruction vetoes below:

PUBLIC INSTRUCTION

32. Energy Efficiency Revenue Limit Adjustment

I am partially vetoing this section to limit adoption of such resolutions to before January 1, 2018 or after December 3018.  I object to the temporary suspension of this revenue limit adjustment because I believe school districts should be required to use referenda to bypass revenue limits.  Many of the recently adopted resolutions for energy efficiency measures allowed school districts to exceed revenue limits by a significant amount.  Taxpayers should have a direct voice when large property tax increases are under consideration.  This veto will maintain the ability for school districts to ask taxpayers if they wish to exceed revenue limits and eliminate an exemption that has been viewed as a loophole to revenue limits.

33. Low Revenue Adjustment

I am vetoing this section entirely because the result is a substantial increase in property tax capacity that school districts may exercise without voter input.  In several school districts that would be eligible to raise taxes under these sections, referenda to exceed revenue limits already failed within the past two years.  An increase in revenue authority from the state in these districts would circumvent purposeful, local actions.

It should also be noted that in some cases, the same districts that would have become eligible to increase their revenues with this adjustment have increased their base revenues at a rate higher than the state average.  This brings into question the need for this adjustment and highlights the need for local taxpayer input before a revenue limit adjustment is made.

As a result of this veto, the low revenue adjustment level for school districts will remain at $9,100.  School districts across the state will benefit from other significant education investments in this budget, including meaningful increases in per pupil aid.  These per pupil increases are equal among all school districts.  Additionally, school districts could pursue an increase in their revenue limit through a referendum as is the case under current law.  In fact, numerous districts have already done so by asking taxpayers through a referendum.  Increases to the low revenue adjustment can be discussed in future state budgets.

34. School District Referenda Scheduling

I am partially vetoing these provisions to eliminate the ability of school districts to conduct the special elections to consider referenda as described above, but maintain the effective date of January 1, 2018 for the limitations on referendum scheduling.   School referenda should be known and considered by the greatest number of voters possible, and limiting referenda to regularly scheduled election days will further this principle.  Maintaining the delayed effective date will allow currently scheduled referenda to take place.

35. Whole Grade Sharing Aid

I am vetoing these sections in their entirety to eliminate the grant program for whole grade sharing and related reporting requirements.  Whole grade sharing is intended to create savings, which should be a built-in incentive; however, school districts have not taken advantage of whole grade sharing since it became permissible under 2015 Wisconsin Act 55.  Therefore, I believe these funds can be repurposed to support more effective programs that support rural schools.

36. Shared Services Aid

I am vetoing these sections in their entirety to eliminate the grant program for shared services.  Sharing services will create savings for school districts; therefore, providing state grants would nullify savings to taxpayers that would result from local actions.  Additionally, I believe these funds can be repurposed to support more effective programs that support rural schools.

37. Summer School Grants

I am partially vetoing these provisions to create a grant to the Milwaukee Public Schools for summer school programs.  The program proposed in my Executive Budget was targeted to the district to augment the district’s summer school expansion efforts.  I object to the expansion of eligibility because it will dilute the funding, and therefore effectiveness, of the funds in the district.  I also believe that language specifying outcomes is unnecessary absent a competitive process, and would diminish the ability of a district to employ the funds in the most effective way.  As a result of this veto, the district will receive a grant of $1,400,000 in fiscal year 2018-19 for summer school programs, and no other districts will be eligible to apply for these funds.

38. Virtual Charter School Funding Study

I am vetoing this provision to eliminate the report.  I object to the increased administrative burden on the department.

39. Mental Health Services Grants

I am partially vetoing these sections as they relate to requirements on applicants and the requirement for an advisory committee.  I believe schools should have maximum flexibility in designing and implementing these collaborations and therefore the statutes creating the program should be general, not prescriptive.  Additionally, the requirement for an advisory committee is burdensome.  As a result of this veto, the department will have broad flexibility to specify grant criteria in administrative rule without an official advisory committee; however, the department should seek input from interested parties informally.

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Senate Committee Passes Amended AB 169

By John Forester | September 19, 2017

“A state Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow people to carry concealed guns without getting training or state permits and in some cases bring them onto school grounds. 

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee signed off on the bill 3-2, with all Republicans for it and all Democrats against it. The wide-ranging legislation would also allow people to carry Tasers without training or permits and would allow felons to carry muzzle loaders.”

Check out the remainder of the news story penned by Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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SAA Veto Request Letter

By John Forester | September 19, 2017

The SAA hand delivered its veto request letter to the Governors office late yesterday.

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Gun Bill Up for Committee Vote Today

By John Forester | September 19, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to vote this morning on a GOP constitutional carry bill.

But the committee’s expected to introduce a substitute amendment today that would strike out language in the original bill to eliminate the state’s school gun free zone law. Instead, the sub would modify it, making it a state crime to possess a firearm in a school zone only if that person is violating the federal gun-free school zone law, according to a draft that was shared with WisPolitics.com.

The bill, authored by Sen. Dave Craig and Rep. Mary Felzkowski, got a public hearing in the Senate committee at the end of May, which sparked some of the changes outlined in the amendment.

The legislation is just one of a series of bills on the committee’s docket this morning. Another is Marsy’s Law, a proposed constitutional amendment that would increase the rights of crime victims. It passed an Assembly committee earlier this month.

See SAA Testimony on the bill here.

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