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Voters Deserve Say On Voucher Spending PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25   
Saturday, 15 April 2017 10:09

kids-milwBill proposes same oversight voters have over public school revenue.


MADISON - The recent spring ballot gave Wisconsin voters sixty-five opportunities to cast votes on public school funding requests ranging from new facilities to basic operations. In Northern Wisconsin communities voters were able to approve an increase for classroom education and deferred maintenance in one district and decide against spending on a new facility in another.

Unfortunately -- when it comes to state-mandated spending on voucher schools -- voters didn’t have the same chance. State law mandates payouts to the statewide voucher program, which are significantly higher than the average state aid per student to public schools. And a change in the 2015 GOP state budget takes that higher payment directly out of public schools, leaving property taxpayers to make up the difference if it’s made up at all.

That’s why I worked with three of my colleagues to draft a bill that will give school district voters the same oversight of voucher spending that they currently have over public school revenue limits. Our legislation is simple and straightforward: No funds can be taken from a school district to pay voucher schools unless voters in that district approve in a referendum.

This legislation would not end taxpayer-funded voucher schools. It would simply give voucher school operators and their lobbyists the responsibility to make the case for the quality and value of their schools directly to the hard-working taxpayers and local voters who pay for them under current law.

janet-bewleyWisconsin’s public schools have long been national leaders and are the cornerstones of our communities, especially in rural and northern Wisconsin. These public schools have gone to referendum 334 times for operating costs and another 324 times for debt or new facilities since 2011. Even including modest increases the Governor proposed in his budget, state aid that supports public schools and reduces property taxes will not even keep pace with inflation over that period.

At the same time, and with no taxpayer oversight or control, spending on voucher programs in Wisconsin has more than doubled since the first Republican budget in 2011. Untold amounts are funneled from taxpayer-financed voucher schools to organizations that pay lobbyists to demand ever more from taxpayers. And local property taxpayers lose more to the voucher program than state aid would have brought in.

Voucher lobbyists themselves said recently that property taxpayers make up the difference, and then some, between state aid to public schools and state payments to voucher schools that are $1000-$1700 higher per student in the Governor’s budget. (Imagine how much lower your property taxes could be if the state’s commitment to public school students matched the amount my Republican colleagues pay out per student to voucher schools.)

It’s time for taxpayers to have a say in whether they want their dollars taken out of the schools that have served generations of Wisconsinites very well to fund the voucher industry. As long as voucher schools are being paid for by local taxpayers and districts are forced to face the voters to keep the lights on, local voters should have the same say on voucher spending they have on public schools.

And as long as voucher schools are being paid for by state tax dollars at all, students in public schools should be treated at least as well by their state government. It’s time for the state to step up to the plate the way voters have 441 times for our public schools since 2011. It’s time for the state to stop returning fewer of your state tax dollars per student to your public schools than we pay voucher schools.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 10:19
 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign 'Koch Brothers Strike Again!' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 14 April 2017 10:33

koch-brothersKoch Brothers want to wipe out Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law, GOP making it harder to demand a recount in Wisconsin, and more...


MADISON - The Koch Brothers continue their assault on good government and decent wages in Wisconsin.

This time, they’re going after what’s left of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law:

Koch brothers behind the GOP bill to wipe out prevailing wage

They’re using not one, not two, but three of their funded groups – including a phony veterans’ group! – to try to hoodwink the people of Wisconsin into letting their legislators gut the wages of construction workers on state contracts.

With seemingly nothing better to do, some GOP legislators are also trying to make it harder for candidates to demand a recount in Wisconsin, as we explain here:

Why the “We Hate Jill Stein” bill is bad

I’m off to give a talk tonight at the Jefferson Public Library to a new group called “Indivisible Jefferson County.”

As I travel around the state, I’m constantly reminded of the great organizing that’s going on everywhere.

This bolsters my spirits – and yours too, I hope.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
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P.S. If you appreciate our work, please send us a tax-deductible donation today by clicking here or by making your check and mailing to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign at the address below. We really appreciate it!

 
WI Democracy Campaign "Good News, Bad News" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 07 April 2017 14:15

money-behind-politics8 Wisconsin referendums show voters oppose Citizens United, Walker crushes Iowa workers, insurance company gave $44K to Walker, and more...


MADISON - First, the good news: The popular grassroots movement in Wisconsin to overturn Citizens United keeps on chalking up the victories:

Eight Wisconsin referendums all pass opposing corporate personhood

Now, the bad news: Scott Walker has been advising Republicans in Iowa about how to go after working people, with disastrous results:

Iowa takes Walker’s advice, crushes workers

We’re starting to take a closer look at where Walker is giving talks around Wisconsin. For instance, earlier this week, he talked about health care at Gundersen Lutheran, and here’s what we found:

Gundersen Lutheran bigwigs gave $44K to Walker

We also noted that an insurance company, United HealthCare, that is being sued for fraud by the U.S. government has also been pouring money into Wisconsin political races:

Accused insurer contributed nearly $42k to Wisconsin candidates

And when we saw that the Wisconsin legislature was meddling again in the affairs of Dane County, we registered our objections: 

WDC opposes Assembly Bill 109 on Dane County zoning

I hope you enjoy these offerings—and the nice weather this weekend, finally!

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

P.S. Please send us a tax-deductible donation so we can continue our urgent work. Just click here or send your check, payable to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, to us at WDC, 203 S. Paterson St., Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703.

 
Blue Jean Nation "Spreading it thick" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 07 April 2017 09:46

manure-spreaderThe powerful and privileged have brought on the era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in.


ALTOONA, WI - Our current times will go down in history as the age of bullshit. Unless, of course, the manure spreaders somehow figure out a way to prevent the truth from ever being recorded for posterity.

The powerful and privileged have always found honesty inconvenient. It has this pesky way of interfering with their plans.

Their problem got way bigger in the 20th Century with the advent of radio and then television. Never before in human history could more sources of information reach mass audiences so quickly. The powerful and privileged knew they had to do something.

Step one was doing away with the Fairness Doctrine and weakening other public interest obligations enshrined in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 that for decades ensured everything from coverage of local issues to children’s educational programming.

Step two was methodically demonizing legitimate news reporting and convincing a significant segment of the population to no longer trust what is reported.

Step three was the construction of their own alternative “news” operations. Free of the old requirements to serve the public interest, they could build their own propaganda machine. And they did.

The completion of these three steps brought about this era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in. The age of bullshit. The powerful and privileged succeeded. They may have been too successful for their own good.

At first, they had to be delighted by how efficiently their machine worked. All across the nation, public offices were occupied by people who benefited from the falsehoods the machine spread but at least appeared to understand the truth. But now, a large and growing segment of society clearly embraces the lies and either won’t or can’t distinguish fiction from fact. More and more public offices are being occupied by such people, which has brought us to the point where those who’ve been empowered to govern aren’t governing. Maybe they’ve been entertaining fantasies and scapegoating and demonizing for so long that they’ve forgotten how to govern. Or maybe they never learned how. In any case, they can’t possibly deliver what their propagandized constituents expect them to accomplish. They can’t simultaneously cut taxes, drastically increase military spending, protect Social Security, balance the budget and bring down the national debt. They can’t create a private health insurance system with no government involvement that will cover everyone and cost less. They have no way of bringing back all the lost U.S. factory jobs in heavy manufacturing.

At least one of the minions of the powerful and privileged who helped spread the manure now admits he helped create a monster as he regards a president who “gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief.” Most just keep spreading.

In 1795, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “light and liberty go together.” By 1816, Jefferson’s thinking on the matter sharpened: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” It sharpened more by 1821, almost as if he could see what was coming: “No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.”

One can only imagine what Jefferson would have to say in 2017.

— Mike McCabe

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Learn more about the author at www.bluejeannation.com

Last Updated on Friday, 07 April 2017 10:05
 
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