Friday April 28, 2017

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Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25

Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25

Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25 was elected to the Senate in the fall of 2014 after serving two terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly. She is a member of the Senate’s Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges, Committee on Education, Committee on Insurance, Housing, and Trade and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
Janet is also a member of the Special Committee on State-Tribal Relations, the State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and the Governor’s Council on Tourism. Prior to her first election in the fall of 2010, she served on the Ashland City Council for two years.
Madison Office: 126 South, State Capitol Phone: (608) 266-3510 E-mail: Sen.Bewley@legis.wi.gov

Voters Deserve Say On Voucher Spending

Posted by Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25
Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25
Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25 was elected to the Senate in the fall of 201
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 18 April 2017
in Wisconsin

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.

Wisconsin’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.

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Ready to Help Wherever Needed

Posted by Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25
Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25
Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25 was elected to the Senate in the fall of 201
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 11 March 2017
in Wisconsin

girl_scoutsOn National Girl Scouts Day, March 12, 2017


ASHLAND, WI - One of the things I enjoy most about being a State Senator is visiting local schools to talk with fourth graders about state government. I always try and include time for questions and answers. Fourth graders can be very curious. I get lots of questions about my family – do I have children, did I have brothers and sisters – and my preferences – what’s my favorite color, do I like dogs, cats, or lizards? (I like turtles.)

Sometimes you get a question you’re not expecting, a question that throws you for a loop. Earlier this month, after fielding questions about how old I am and if I know any famous people, a student raised her hand and asked “why do you do it?”

I must have paused long enough for her to realize I wasn’t sure what she meant, so she added “why did you want to be a Senator?” And the answer that immediately came to mind was to help. So that’s what I told her. “Like the Girl Scouts,” she replied. I didn’t have lots of time to think about it at the time, as other students had more questions for me to answer. But she was right.

This week offered me another opportunity to both think and talk about what it means to help. On Wednesday, Representative Mary Felzkowski and I hosted a “Troop Meeting” at the State Capitol in honor of 105th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts of America. Over those 105 years, Girl Scouting has helped millions of girls and women build the courage, confidence, and character to make the world a better place.

The continued influence of Girl Scouting is evident by the strength of the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Alliance, which represents 56,000 girl members and 17,000 adult volunteers. Girls from every part of the state came to Madison to celebrate and receive awards for their accomplishments. I was proud to join with Representative Felzkowski and other colleagues to welcome these young women to the Capitol.

As I was thinking about what I would say, I remembered the words of the Girl Scout motto that I recited as a young girl back in Cleveland. “Be Prepared. A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency."

Ready to help out wherever needed. Those are good words to live by. Words that are just as important today as they were in 1947 when the Girl Scouts adopted the motto. I have often talked about my admiration for the men and women who got us through the Second World War and rebuilt our country after the Depression.

I learned this week that the Girls Scouts also helped the war effort. Instead of selling cookies, they sold special calendars and war bonds, tended victory gardens, and scrapped metals and fat to be reused.

We are lucky we live in much safer times. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the Girl Scouts in some way on March 12th – support a local troop by buying an extra box of cookies, take a moment and encourage a young girl you know, find a way to help someone who needs it.

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Wisconsin Has A Proud Legacy to Build On

Posted by Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25
Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25
Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25 was elected to the Senate in the fall of 201
User is currently offline
on Friday, 10 February 2017
in Wisconsin

wisc-dairy-farmGov. Walker talked this week about "working and winning", but his plan is to continue borrowing and raiding Peter to pay Paul. Our priority must be Wisconsin’s roads, schools and jobs. Wisconsinites never have, and never will stop putting in a hard day’s work.


MADISON - In the depths of the great depression, President Roosevelt warned against becoming cold-hearted, cautioned against indifference and reminded Americans that they were called to save something great and precious for the nation and its future. And they answered the call.

The nation came together. People didn’t look at their neighbors who were marginally better off than them with resentment. Instead of dragging people down, they worked to make the future better for not only their families, but for everyone who got up and went to work each day. And we inherited a better nation.

The men and women who grew up during the great depression and went on to serve in World War II are often referred to as the greatest generation. The spirit of the greatest generation is alive and well in Northern Wisconsin. Our friends and neighbors here will always pride themselves on delivering a job seen-through and well-done. I think they would agree, as I do, that we should be rewarding work.

During his budget address this week, the Governor kept using the phrase “we are working and winning for Wisconsin.” I think he said it 9 times. I know we’re working.

The Governor, after three budgets of spending our tax dollars elsewhere, wants to put a little more money in to our local schools, send a few more dollars to local units of government for roads and make some modest investments in Broadband and other infrastructure improvements.

Will that help us win? Without a solution to Wisconsin’s long-term transportation challenge, our roads will continue to deteriorate. Governor Walker offered no solution, his plan is to continue borrowing and raiding Peter to pay Paul. Soon, nearly 50% of our roads will be in disrepair and debt costs will eat up more than a quarter of our transportation spending.

One of the cornerstones of successful economies is an educated workforce. The Governor’s budget does nothing to fix the outdated and unfair funding formula for public schools. Instead of rewarding or even requiring work, his budget demands even less of voucher school operators who are taking resources directly out of our public schools.

Large tax breaks for the wealthy haven’t produced more jobs. The Republican Majority Leader of the Senate described one of the Governor’s proposals as “a meager income tax reduction, I think we've been down that path before and it's resulted in not enough bang for the buck.” I think that’s an apt description for the Governor’s whole approach. We need to do better. We can do better.

Our priority must be Wisconsin’s roads, schools and jobs. Wisconsinites never have, and never will stop putting in a hard day’s work. It’s time to put people who work for a living first. It’s time to reward work again.

The budget address was the first step in a months-long process. The legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee will begin public hearings after a non-partisan analysis of the bill is completed. I will be holding listening sessions in Northern Wisconsin. And I will follow up on this column with more detail in the weeks and months to come.

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Tax Giveaways Are Not Creating Jobs

Posted by Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25
Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25
Janet Bewley, State Senator Dist 25 was elected to the Senate in the fall of 201
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 10 September 2016
in Wisconsin

walker-senateIn every quarter since the first Walker Budget took effect, Wisconsin has trailed the nation in total private job creation. The Republican plan is not working.


ASHLAND - Quarterly numbers released Wednesday show that Wisconsin lost 509 manufacturing jobs. For 19 straight quarters Wisconsin has trailed the nation in total private job creation. That’s every quarter since the first Walker Budget took effect in 2011.

My Republican colleagues keep saying that they have a plan for growing Wisconsin’s economy. They’ve been saying it for 6 years, but simply saying something doesn’t make it true.

Take the Manufacturing & Agriculture Tax Credit, which took effect in 2013. “What we’re trying to do is grow jobs, so it’s very much in keeping with that,” budget committee chair Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) said. “Come to Wisconsin. Make things here,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington).

Earlier this summer I released a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo exposing that 20,527 fewer manufacturing jobs were created in the three years after the Manufacturing Tax Credit took effect than in the three years before.

This week’s news is even worse for defenders of this shameless giveaway. We didn’t just create fewer jobs, we lost manufacturing jobs. And the credit is going to take $209 million of working taxpayers’ money next year and put it in the pockets of wealthy individuals who aren’t using it to create new jobs. 11 people earning more than $35 million will be handed $21.5 million of your money.

The plan isn’t working. It’s time to stop picking working taxpayers’ pockets for this entitlement for the already entitled. Handouts like the Manufacturing Tax Credit are preventing us from making investments in our roads and schools. Those investments would actually grow our economy.

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