JFC Democrats Offer K-12 Package

By John Forester | June 23, 2017

From The Wheeler Report . . .

The Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee held a press conference today to announce their proposal for K-12 funding for the 2017-19 budget. According to the proposal, the package would:

Specifically, the omnibus motion addresses the following items:

  1. General School Aids Funding.
  2. School Levy Tax Credit
  3. High Poverty Aid
  4. Low-Income Pupil Weighting
  5. Special Adjustment Aid
  6. Minimum Aid
  7. Secondary Cost Ceiling
  8. Hold Harmless Aid
  9. Revenue Limit Per Pupil Adjustments.
  10. Low Revenue Adjustment.
  11. Per Pupil Aid
  12. Summer School Enrollment
  13. Energy Efficiency Exemption
  14. School Safety Plan Revenue Limit Exemption
  15. Sparsity Aid
  16. High Cost Pupil Transportation Aid
  17. Mental Health Programs and Bullying Prevention Program
  18. Milwaukee Performance Funding.
  19. Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Program
  20. Special Education Aid
  21. School Breakfast Program
  22. Private School Choice Programs
  23. State Aid Reductions for Statewide and Racine Choice Programs
  24. Private School Choice Programs – Reestimate
  25. Statewide Private School Choice Program – Participation Limit
  26. Private School Choice Programs – Teacher Licensure
  27. Private School Choice Programs – Background Checks
  28. Private School Choice Programs – Assessment of Reading Readiness
  29. Private School Choice Programs – Criteria for High School Graduation
  30. Private School Choice Programs – Expulsion Policy
  31. Private School Choice Programs – Corporal Punishment
  32. Private School Choice Programs – Building Inspections
  33. Private School Choice Programs – Miscellaneous Provisions
  34. Private School Choice Programs – Enrollment Limit
  35. Rural School Teacher Loan Forgiveness
  36. Expiration Dates for Teacher and Administrator Licenses.

See WPR Coverage here.

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GOP Far Apart on Transpo; No Concensus on K-12

By John Forester | June 23, 2017

From WisPolitics.com … (late yesterday)

Joint Finance Committee Co-chair Alberta Darling said today top GOP leaders have a long way to go on reaching a consensus on transportation, another sign the budget won’t be completed by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

“We are as far apart on transportation as we were a few months ago,” Darling, R-River Hills, told WisPolitics.com in an interview this afternoon.

Fellow JFC Co-chair John Nygren told reporters yesterday the Senate and Assembly GOP are split on bonding, as the Senate supports bonding at levels higher than the $500 million Gov. Scott Walker has proposed, a position Assembly Republicans oppose. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald later said Fitzgerald is advocating for $850 million in bonding.

Darling said in addition to broadly discussing transportation, top GOP leaders have yet to reach a consensus on K-12 education funding, following three consecutive days of closed-door meetings between Darling, Nygren, Fitzgerald, Speaker Robin Vos and others.

Darling also said members have yet to reach an agreement on property taxes, another major sticking point in budget discussions.

She said the group plans to meet again on Tuesday to continue negotiations, but maintains that members have “made some good progress” on the budget so far.

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Budget Talks Continue

By John Forester | June 22, 2017

From WisPolitics.com … (late yesterday)

GOP legislative leaders are still at an impasse on the transportation budget, although they’re confident they will strike a deal soon on K-12 education.

GOP leg leaders met yesterday as well as this afternoon.

Still, Joint Finance Committee Co-chair John Nygren said it would be a “challenge” to wrap up the budget by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Nygren, R-Marinette, told reporters during the Assembly session this afternoon that the committee is not meeting tomorrow, but he expects budget negotiations to continue then.

Earlier today, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, meanwhile, noted he’d prefer to spend this week negotiating and finding “common ground” in order to reach a consensus before holding more committee hearings.

And Nygren said he’s hopeful the education budget could be completed by next week.

“I think we’ve made progress on education to the point where I think we can come to an agreement fairly quickly,” he told reporters today. “It’s going to come down, I believe, to transportation being the main stumbling block for us moving forward.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said yesterday’s closed door discussions, which included Vos, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, members of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau and JFC co-chairs Nygren and Sen. Alberta Darling, didn’t stray from education.

“We have a lot left just to figure out on education,” said Vos, R-Rochester. “Do we pause to talk about transportation?”

On transportation, Nygren said the Senate GOP supports bonding at levels higher than what Gov. Scott Walker has proposed, a position Assembly Republicans are “solidly against,” as Vos called for a long-term transportation solution.

“Bonding is nothing more than a Band-Aid to us,” Vos said.

Fitzgerald spokeswoman Myranda Tanck said Fitzgerald’s advocating for $850 million in bonding for transportation, $350 million more than Walker proposed.

Vos also called Rep. Amy Loudenbeck’s proposal to charge a per-mile fee on heavy trucks a “short term solution,” although he said he was still open to it, along with other ideas. Still, he noted that it hasn’t yet been discussed by the group.

See Wisconsin State Journal coverage here.

See Wisconsin Public Radio coverage here.

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Closed-Door Budget Talks Continue Today

By John Forester | June 21, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

GOP leaders will continue closed-door talks today on the budget, as they try to strike a deal on the remaining big-ticket items of K-12 education, taxes and transportation.

Their offices reported they were making progress following a full day of budget talks yesterday, although no notice for a possible Joint Finance Committee meeting on Thursday has yet been circulated.

The closed-door meeting yesterday, which started in the morning and ended before 5 p.m., included Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, members of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau and the Joint Finance Committee co-chairs: Rep. John Nygren and Sen. Alberta Darling.

Spokespeople for Fitzgerald, Darling and Nygren confirmed progress had been made in the meeting, although they declined to provide specifics.

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More on Gerrymandering Supreme Court Case

By John Forester | June 20, 2017

I found this column by Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to be interesting analysis of the key issues at the heart of the Wisconsin gerrymandering case.  Check it out.

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La Crosse Area Educators Weigh In on ESSA

By John Forester | June 20, 2017

Check out the La Crosse Tribune coverage of the ESSA hearing held at CESA 4 yesterday.

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SWIB Executive Director to Retire

By John Forester | June 20, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Michael Williamson, the executive director of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, will retire at the end of the year.

SWIB, which manages state retirement assets, said it’s added $1 billion above the market’s returns since Williamson started leading the agency in 2012.

David Stein, the Board of Trustees chairman, said Williamson has “provided steady and skillful leadership for the organization as it navigated through difficult financial times and a major transformation of its operations.”

Williamson, meanwhile, said he’s “looking forward to becoming a beneficiary” of retirement benefits after 41 years of public service, including in the city of Madison, UW-Madison, the District of Columbia Retirement Board and the North Carolina Retirement System.

The Board of Trustees, which is now launching a nationwide search for a new executive director, plans on hiring someone before Williamson retires.

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Evers Announces Districts of Innovation

By John Forester | June 19, 2017

The Department of Public Instruction unveiled a new effort today to encourage innovation, increase educational equity, and remove barriers that schools may face in helping all students graduate college and career ready.

Additional information is available in the DPI news release here.

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Public Hearing on PI 34 Emergency Rule

By John Forester | June 19, 2017

The Department of Public Instruction is submitting an emergency rule on PI 34 under s. 115.28(7)(a), Stats.  The emergency rule and corresponding public hearing notice are linked below.  The emergency rule will be effective on Saturday, June 17th.  The public hearing will be held on Thursday, July 6 in Madison.

PI 34 contains the current administrative rules governing the licensure of school personnel. Section 115.425, Wis. Stats., and PI 34.36, Wis. Admin. Code, provide the duties of the Professional Standards Council for Teachers, which advises and makes recommendations to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on matters pertaining to the licensure of teachers. The PSC developed a strategic plan for addressing school staffing challenges in Wisconsin with the goal of developing, supporting, and retaining teachers, and some of those recommendations were reviewed by stakeholder groups and used in this rule development. Such strategies include fewer licenses with greater flexibility, easing the licensing process for out-of-state license holders, reducing the testing burden, and expanding pathways into the profession.

Written comments on the emergency rule must be received no later than July 21, 2017, and will be given the same consideration as testimony presented at the hearing.

PI 34 Emergency Rule Public Hearing Notice

PI 34 Emergency Rule

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GOP Plan Would Roll Back Recurring Referendums for 130 Districts

By John Forester | June 19, 2017

Check out this coverage of the public hearing on AB 268 from Wisconsin Public Radio.

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