Northland Pines Superintendent Advocates for SAA Flexibility Agenda

By John Forester | August 26, 2020

Check out the letter that Northland Pines Superintendent Scott Foster sent to his district’s legislators in support of the SAA’s Statutory Flexibility Agenda.  Great job, Scott!

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Early Literacy Symposia to Hold Fourth Session Today

By John Forester | August 26, 2020

The Legislative Council Symposia on Early Literacy Policies will hold its fourth session beginning at 2pm today, Wednesday, August 26th.

The Symposia Series on Early Literacy Policies will present information on how children learn to read, focusing on the research done by cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, teacher preparation professionals, and early childhood developmental researchers. The Series will include presentations each Wednesday at 2pm through September 2nd. Today’s session will feature a presentation on Early Literacy: Birth to Age 3, by Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Pediatrician, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

The SAA will monitor the proceedings of this symposia.  Interested parties may live stream the symposia session on YouTube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3rvDUs75NI&feature=youtu.be.

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WisPolitics Coverage of Nygren Budget Presentation

By John Forester | August 26, 2020

From WisPolitics.com . . .

Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren says the state is in a better financial position than he originally thought when the COVID-19 economic crisis began due in part to “some strong” corporate and sales tax revenues.

But the Marinette Republcian warned at a Badger Institute virtual event yesterday “some tough decisions are ahead of us” as federal, state and local governments reel with simultaneously higher expenses and diminished tax revenue.

“If we don’t make our reductions in this second year of the budget, even though we are in a better position than we originally thought, the full impact is going to roll into the next budget,” he said.

Nygren criticized Gov. Tony Evers for not reducing state spending more. He said Evers’ previous announcement that he would cut 5 percent of executive spending was “actually only about 1 percent.”

Agencies earlier this summer trimmed $70 million to address anticipated shortfalls amid the pandmeic. The UW System accounted for about $41 million of the earlier cuts.

The guv has since said he would cut another $250 million from state agencies, though details have yet to be released. Nygren said he would be “waiting to see where that plays out.”

The cuts could mean a budget repair bill this session wouldn’t be necessary, according to Nygren. But he added a budget repair measure “might be a good thing” anyways, and that the full scale of the fiscal crisis won’t be known until state revenue numbers are revealed.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau told WisPolitics.com it’s slated to release FY 2019-20 collections data sometime later this week or next week.

Nygren said he isn’t looking forward to “having that conversation” about a potential budget repair bill, since he said there hasn’t been a need for such a measure since he became JFC co-chair in 2013.

“However, what I guess I’ve been trying to get across to anybody that’s listening is decisions made today … will make the 2021-23 budget conversations much easier, less painful and I think those conversations should be had,” he said.

An Evers administration spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

See more here.

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Nygren: Budget Decisions Made Now Help the Next Budget Process

By John Forester | August 25, 2020

From The Wheeler Report . . .

On a Zoom webinar with the Badger Institute, JFC Co-Chair Rep. Nygren repeatedly said that any decisions that can be made now to reduce spending in the second year of this biennial budget will help soften any blows that may be necessary in the next biennial budget. Nygren highlighted that Evers has made administrative cuts, which may prevent him from having to do a budget repair bill, but said he’d prefer to see hard decisions being made now to reduce spending in this budget rather than having to make more significant cuts or changes in the next budget.

In addition to discussing what he believes are advantages to making tough decisions now, Nygren said it is essential that any federal funds that are being given to the state during the pandemic not be built into the next budget as ongoing funds. Nygren emphasized the federal CARES Act funds, and any additional funds which could come, are one-time monies and should not be used for on-going appropriations. He said the Doyle administration did that with funds during the last recession and it resulted in the budget cutting the Walker administration imposed.

Nygren said Medicaid is something they are keeping an eye on since unemployment often leads to increased enrollment for MA. He said between March and July of this year enrollment grew 13%, and DHS predicts growth of 22% by the end of the current budget. According to Nygren, DHS currently predicts that MA will end the current budget with a small surplus, but he said that is largely due to the temporary enhanced federal reimbursement rate.

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Evers Announces Special Session on Police Policy Bills

By John Forester | August 24, 2020

From WisPolitics.com …

Gov. Tony Evers announced today he is calling a special session on a package of proposals he released earlier this summer to overhaul police policies.

Evers released the package after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer, but didn’t call a special session at the time despite calls from Black Wisconsin lawmakers.

He signed an executive order today calling the special session for noon Aug. 31 in the wake of a Kenosha Police officer shooting a Black man in the back following a domestic disturbance call.

Evers said he wanted to be clear “this is not the time for politics,” but for legislative action.

“I’m urging Republican leadership to rise up to this important moment in history, to put people before politics and to put the lives of Black Wisconsinites above politics and to give this special session the urgent and productive effort this movement demands and that the people of Wisconsin deserve,” he said in a message that was live streamed early this afternoon.

While the guv can call a special session, he can’t force lawmakers to act.

The package of bills includes establishing a policy that police officers only use deadly force as a last result and banning chokeholds.

See the release here.

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Florence County Superintendent Advocates for SAA Flexibility Agenda

By John Forester | August 21, 2020

Check out the letter that Florence County Superintendent Ben Neihaus sent to his district’s legislators in support of the SAA’s Statutory Flexibility Agenda.  Great job, Ben!

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Portage County Business Council Supports SAA Flexibility Agenda

By John Forester | August 20, 2020

Check out the letter that Todd Kuckkahn, Executive Director of the Portage County Business Council, sent to the Portage County legislators in support of the SAA Statutory Flexibility Agenda.  Hats off to Todd for his great letter of support!  A big “thank you” to Stevens Point Superintendent Craig Gerlach for helping to facilitate this effort.  Great job Craig!

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DHS Schools COVID-19 Outbreak Guidance

By John Forester | August 19, 2020

Governor Evers’ Office has just released the following:

Schools Outbreak Guidance

DHS is releasing guidance for schools today. Here is the link to the Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in K-12 Schools in Wisconsin. This document will be added to the DHS website this afternoon via the COVID-19: Schools and Child Care webpage.

We know the 2020-2021 school year during the COVID-19 pandemic brings a unique set of challenges to Wisconsin school districts and local and tribal health departments. Ensuring the safety of Wisconsin students is key to furthering their education.

Wisconsin has 422 different public school districts, 230 charter schools, and 789 private and parochial school, each with unique needs and considerations.

Recognizing that schools that resume in-person instruction will likely experience outbreaks of COVID-19, DHS’s goal was to create a consistent but flexible approach to responding to outbreaks so our schools and local health departments had the tools and information they need to respond.

The reality of the current status of the virus in Wisconsin is that we will see outbreaks in schools. The fall semester is going to be a difficult one. It is important for us all to be supporting our schools and local health departments and allowing them to make the best decisions possible for their parents, kids, teachers, and community. We want local and tribal health departments to be prepared so that outbreaks can be addressed quickly and the students, school staff, and entire community can be as safe and healthy as possible.

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Gunderson Joins State Superintendent Race

By John Forester | August 19, 2020

From WisPolitics.com …

Recently retired West Salem Superintendent Troy Gunderson says his platform to become the state’s top elected education official will revolve around the word “ready.”

That means making sure students are ready to learn when they begin school, teachers are ready to teach them and high school graduates are ready for their next step in life.

“As COVID-19 will definitely have an impact on public education when we come out on the other side, visionary leadership will be important as we redefine the role of public education in our state,” Gunderson told WisPolitics.com in his first interview about his bid.

State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor announced earlier this year she wouldn’t seek a full term in April 2021 after Gov. Tony Evers appointed her to the post after he left the office for the East Wing.

Gunderson is the third candidate to get into the race, joining Sheila Briggs, an assistant state superintendent, and Jill Underly, superintendent of the Pecatonica Area School District.

All three have expressed some level of reservations about the state’s voucher program.

Gunderson said he believes the state’s open enrollment program provides parents choice because they can opt to send their kids to a public school outside the district in which they live. Meanwhile, he believes data is inconclusive on whether children do better in voucher schools.

“I personally am not sure whether it’s right to spend public tax dollars at private institutions like that,” said Gunderson, who plans a formal launch to his campaign next week.

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West Allis-West Milwaukee Superintendent Responds to SAA Flexibility Alert

By John Forester | August 19, 2020

Check out the great letter that West Allis-West Milwaukee Superintendent Martin Lexmond sent to his legislators in support of the SAA’s Statutory Flexibility Agenda.  Great job Martin!

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