Walker Campaign Does Not Respond To SAA Request

By John Forester | October 3, 2018

As you know, on September 6th the SAA asked the Walker and Evers campaigns to respond in writing to several questions on current education policy issues impacting Wisconsin public schools and public school children.

The Evers campaign submitted their responses on the September 25th deadline.  After multiple requests and reminders, we have yet to receive a response from the Walker campaign.

Stay tuned.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Legislature to Call Extraordinary Session Starting November 12

By John Forester | October 3, 2018

From The Wheeler Report . . .

Sen. Fitzgerald has announced that the legislature will call itself into Extraordinary Session on Nov. 12 to take up AB-963, a bill to provide tax credits for Kimberly-Clark in the city of Neenah and village of Fox Crossing. The bill passed the Assembly on February 22, 59-37. Fitzgerald said the Senate will hold a public hearing and a vote will be held on the Senate floor “later in November.” Sen. Fitzgerald told the Associated Press the Extraordinary Session will only consist of the Kimberly-Clark tax incentive package, but Speaker Vos said he is open to taking up additional legislation beyond the Kimberly-Clark tax incentive package in the Extraordinary Session. The Senate Organization Committee ballot will be distributed to members at 2:30 tomorrow, with a deadline of 4:30 tomorrow. The Assembly Organization Committee ballot will be distributed to members at 1 pm on Wednesday and the responses are required by 4 pm on Wednesday.

See Wisconsin State Journal Coverage here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

SAA Member Jeff Wright Running for State Assembly

By John Forester | September 27, 2018

I’m writing as a reminder to all SAA members that we have one of our own running for the State Legislature.

You might recall that, in 2016, Jeff Wright, assistant superintendent for the Sauk Prairie Schools, ran a strong but unsuccessful campaign for the State Assembly.  Jeff is running again this year for the State Assembly (51st Assembly District) as a Democrat.  Jeff’s career as an educator began as a history, government and world affairs teacher.  He also served as a high school principal on the south side of Chicago.  I first connected with Jeff several years ago when he delivered extremely effective testimony on the state budget before the Joint Finance Committee.  He is a strong advocate for Wisconsin schools and Wisconsin school children.

Needless to say, the SAA is very excited about Jeff’s candidacy.  If you would like more information about his campaign, including information on making a campaign contribution, I have provided a link to Jeff’s campaign website below.

Jeff Wright for Assembly

Please note:  The State Elections Commission has advised that SAA members should access campaign donation pages from a personal computer and not on school servers.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Evers Campaign Answers SAA Survey Questions

By John Forester | September 27, 2018

Gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers has provided written answers to the SAA’s survey questions.  We have not yet received a response from Governor Walker’s campaign.

Stay tuned.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Rep. Brooks Resigns Leadership Post Under Fire

By John Forester | September 27, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Rep. Rob Brooks’ decision to resign his leadership post but remain in the Legislature is “beyond what we expected or even wanted,” said three female GOP lawmakers who were the subject of inappropriate comments the legislator made during an off-site caucus.

But a spokesman for Scott Walker said the guv still believes Brooks, R-Saukville, should resign from the Legislature over the comments.

And Dems called the incident “very troubling” but punted on questions of whether Brooks should leave his seat.

The guv’s call for Brooks to resign followed the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s report, citing sources, that he told Rep. Jessie Rodriguez during an Assembly GOP meeting in the Wisconsin Dells that he was buying drinks for everyone except her because the Oak Creek Republican is Hispanic. Brooks also made sexual comments to GOP Reps. Cindi Duchow, of Delafield, and Amy Loudenbeck, of Clinton, the paper reported.

In a tweet, Walker called Brooks’ comments “offensive and disrespectful. They have no place in our society and are inconsistent with the high standards that must be held by those in public office. He should resign from office, period.”

Brooks, who was elected assistant majority leader for the 2017-18 session, told WisPolitics.com that he was drinking at the time of the incident and was on medication after he had been rear-ended in Madison a couple of months before the caucus.

He also acknowledged that Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, intervened following his comments and he “appreciated Mark stepping up and helping me.” Brooks said he later apologized to all four lawmakers.

“I’m going to step down from leadership to focus on my district,” Brooks said.

“We’ve all moved on. We moved on two months ago.”

Duchow, Loudenbeck and Rodriguez said in a joint statement Brooks’ July comments were “out of line” and they made their views “immediately known to him and the Assembly Chief Clerk.”

They said in the statement they were satisfied with the Assembly response and Brooks’ apology.

“While we respect his decision to resign his leadership position and appreciate the seriousness with which he takes the issue, it is beyond what we expected or even wanted,” they said. “We have put the incident behind us; we would ask kindly ask others to do the same.”

Assembly GOP leaders, meanwhile, condemned the remarks, adding they’d accepted Brooks’ resignation. The position of assistant majority leader will remain open until new leadership elections are held in November for the 2019-20 session.

“We believe the issue had been appropriately resolved but respect Rep. Brook’s decision to resign his leadership post,” the Assembly GOP leaders said.

It is the second time since 2014 that a member of the Assembly GOP leadership team has been accused of inappropriate behavior during an off-site event that involved alcohol. Former Majority Leader Bill Kramer, of Waukesha, was ousted from the No. 2 position after he was accused of groping a legislative aide and making inappropriate comments to a lobbyist during a fundraising trip to Washington, D.C. One witness said Kramer appeared to be drunk.

Later in 2014, Kramer was sentenced to jail for a separate groping incident at a GOP event in 2011.

Prior to the Assembly GOP leadership statement, Dem Reps. Dianne Hesselbein and Chris Taylor urged Speaker Robin Vos to condemn Brooks’ behavior.

Hesselbein, of Middleton, said the news was “very troubling,” telling reporters this afternoon that “alcohol is not an excuse” for the incident.

She and Taylor, of Madison, spoke at a Capitol news conference on the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The event came after a third woman, Julie Swetnick, accused Kavanaugh of inappropriately touching women and spiking their drinks at parties she attended in the 1980s while they were both in high school.

Taylor argued it was “the height of hypocrisy” for the guv to demand Brooks’ resignation while remaining silent on credible accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh and President Trump.

And she said she was “dismayed that Wisconsin Republicans continued to remain silent” on the accusations against the Supreme Court nominee.

There is no mechanism to remove Brooks’ name from the ballot, even if he had decided to resign, according to the Elections Commission.

Brooks faces Dem Chris Rahlf, of Cedarburg in the heavily Republican 60th AD; Walker won the seat with 72.9 percent of the vote in 2014, while Donald Trump won 61.5 percent there two years ago.

Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney pointed out the November ballots have already been printed and distributed, preventing Brooks’ name from being removed.

Republicans could try to mount a write-in campaign for the seat. A candidate seeking to do that would need to register with the Ethics Commission for fundraising purposes. Such a candidate also would have to register with the Elections Commission so any votes cast for that person would be counted by local clerks. Otherwise, write-ins are included under the scattering category when votes are tallied. The deadline to do that would be noon Nov. 2, the Friday before Election Day.

Meanwhile, Brooks has a fundraiser planned tomorrow with a suggested donation of $500, according to an invite obtained by WisPolitics.com. The fishing trip on Lake Michigan had limited spots available, according to the invite.

Brooks said it was a small fundraiser and he planned to check with those who had already decided to participate before deciding whether to proceed with the event.

See Journal Sentinel article here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Evers Delivers State of Education Address

By John Forester | September 20, 2018

State Superintendent Tony Evers called for working together on behalf of children and their education during his annual state of education address in Madison today.

“We must continue raising our voices until they can no longer be ignored. Together, we can restore respect for Wisconsin schools and educators. Together, we can reinvest in our schools so that every kid can thrive. Together, we can bring civility and collaboration back to public education and to public life.”

State of Education Address

State of Education Address Excerpts

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Marquette Poll: Evers Leading Walker

By John Forester | September 18, 2018

The new Marquette Law School Poll finds Democrat Tony Evers surging ahead of Republican Governor Scott Walker 49 percent to 44 percent among likely voters.  The poll also finds U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin expanding her lead on Republican Leah Vukmir.  For more coverage on the new poll, check out the news coverage from the Wisconsin State Journal.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Evers Budget Request: $1.4 Billion K-12 Increase

By John Forester | September 17, 2018

From WisPolitics:

State Superintendent Tony Evers is asking for an additional $1.4 billion in state money over the next two years to fund K-12 education, more than double the boost schools got in the 2017-19 budget.

The request comes as Evers challenges Gov. Scott Walker this fall with education funding one of the key issues.

The current budget pumped an additional $648 million into K-12 education, the largest increase in a decade. Evers is seeking a boost of more than 10 percent over 2019-21 even as Walker directed state agencies to keep spending flat in their budget proposals.

Evers is proposing an overall increase in school state aids of nearly $2.5 billion. But that would be offset by re-directing $1.1 billion that now goes into the school levy tax credit, resulting in the request for $1.4 billion in new money.

The proposed increase in aids includes an additional $606.1 million to increase special education funding, which would more than double the current reimbursement rate.

DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said the agency’s proposal would restore the state’s commitment to fund two-thirds of education costs. The state is at 65.8 percent for the 2018-19 school year, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

McCarthy also said the impact on property taxes would be neutral under the proposal.

Agency budget requests are due to the Department of Administration on Monday. DPI provided WisPolitics.com a document that included proposed spending levels. But that document didn’t include full details of the budget proposal.

See Wisconsin State Journal coverage here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

145 Districts Receive Sparsity Aid payment; DPI Proposes Aid Increase

By John Forester | September 13, 2018

The state’s small, sparsely populated school districts are sharing $25 million in aid payments that can be used to offset any costs the district incurs in educating its students. Sparsity aid is paid on the third Monday in September.  For more information, including a list of the districts receiving sparsity aid, see the DPI news release.  In the release, DPI also indicates they are seeking an increase in sparsity aid in the 2019-21 state budget.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Evers Proposes New Money for Large Urban Districts

By John Forester | September 12, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

DPI Superintendent Tony Evers wants to add new money to the state’s five largest districts to help close the achievement gap, including aid to expand summer school and create grants to fund the start up and expansion of 3K.

An overview posted at the Department of Public Instruction website notes the five — Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha, Green Bay and Racine — educate 20 percent of the state’s students.

Some of the provisions include:

*$5 million to expand summer school grants.

*$5 million for the 3K grants.

*$1.5 million to enhance payments for National Board Certified Teachers.

*Providing $15,000 per educator who teaches in high poverty schools in the five districts.

*$1 million to support learning lab projects in the five communities.

*$500,000 to expand a program that provides principal training, coaching and support in the districts.

The proposal comes as the state’s achievement gap seeped into the guv’s race this week as Gov. Scott Walker and Evers exchanged jabs on the issue.

Agency budget requests are due to the Walker administration next week, and Evers also has already said he plans to seek an additional $600 million for the special education categorical aid, more than doubling the current reimbursement rate, and about $60 million for mental health services.

The DPI website also includes overviews of other priorities in the upcoming budget proposal, including returning the state to its previous commitment to fund two-thirds of all school costs and increasing the reimbursement rate for bilingual-bicultural aid nearly fourfold.

See the DPI overviews here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

« Previous Entries Next Entries »