Thursday September 21, 2017

Always Foward with Education & Reason

State and Local
School Aid Payments Delayed Amid GOP Budget Fiasco PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats   
Friday, 01 September 2017 08:54

studentsWorse yet, Legislative Republicans budget actions cut rural school funding.

MADISON, WI – Noting that the latest budget deadline to come and go has a damaging impact on school district budgets, Democratic Senate Leaders Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) and Janet Bewley (D-Delta) criticized Republican budget delays and cuts that will hit rural school districts especially hard. The state’s Department of Public Instruction had been set to certify sparsity aid payments to school districts as of today, August 31st.  Rather than heed the call to action on behalf of rural districts, GOP leaders delayed a committee vote on education funding and ultimately settled on a plan that cut Gov. Walker’s proposed increase.

jennifer-shilling“Democrats were ready to go with an education plan in June that would have built on the Governor’s sparsity aid plan, restored the low spending revenue cap to where it should have been in 2011 and cut property taxes compared to the Governor,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “Unfortunately Republican delays and back room dealings resulted in a plan that’s way too late and at least $18 million short in sparsity aid alone.”

A provision in Gov. Walker’s budget proposal that united people in northern and western Wisconsin would have increased sparsity aid for districts with low populations. These schools are especially vulnerable to state funding cuts and the property taxpayers who support them have been especially hard hit. Republicans on the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee scrapped the Governor’s plan on Monday and instead voted to increase revenue caps for low-spending districts. Absent additional state aid, this new funding burden will fall almost entirely on local property taxpayers.

janet-bewley“Schools and property taxpayers would have done much better under the Democratic motion,” Assistant Democratic Leader Janet Bewley (D-Delta). “Instead, the Republicans came back with a plan to make property taxpayers pay more for voucher schools, make property taxpayers pay more for low spending districts and cut $18 million in sparsity aid – including $3 million from Northwest Wisconsin schools alone.”

The Democratic budget motion would have brought the cap for low spending districts to the level GOP budgeters scrapped in 2011 and paid for the increase.  And the Democratic motion would have increased sparsity aid to largely rural districts by:

·         Accepting the Governor’s proposed $100 per student increase for districts with less than 746 students & less than 10 students per square mile

·         Increasing eligibility to districts with less than 1,000 students

·         Expand program eligibility to districts up to 2,700 students at a tiered funding rate

·         And making the program sum sufficient so districts receive the full amount they qualify for

The Senators expressed hope that rank and file Republicans in the Assembly and Senate will reject the special interest handouts, property tax hikes and sparsity aid cuts in the Joint Finance package and instead work with Democrats to return taxpayers dollars back to the rural communities who pay them.

Possible Failure for a Successful Program: Historic Tax Credits PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District   
Wednesday, 30 August 2017 16:12

cedarburgBudget announced by Senator Fitzgerald earlier this summer caps total spending on the Historic Tax Credit at $20 million and limits the funding a project can receive at $5 million.

MADISON - Drive through a quaint renovated small village or town in Wisconsin and you are likely seeing a downtown renovated with Historic Tax Credits. In my opinion the Historic Tax Credit is the most successful rural and small town economic development program administered by Governor Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). As the Legislature considers venturing into the great unknown on high tech manufacturing with checks from our taxpayers for 15 years, that same Republican majority is planning to cap the Historic Tax Credit program.

This cap is defended as needed as an austerity measure. But clearly these budget cuts are not needed elsewhere. The Republican compromise budget announced by Senator Fitzgerald earlier this summer caps total spending on the Historic Tax Credit at $20 million and limits the funding a project can receive at $5 million. These limits will have a significant impact on the program’s success.

fond_du_lacIn 2014, 60 percent of the Historic Tax Credit projects renovated buildings that had been vacant for more than 20 years. The return on investment for taxpayer investments in the Historic Tax Credit has been proven to be 8 to 1. Capping the program will jeopardize projects that will revitalize our communities and provide a known payback to taxpayers. I have heard from local leaders from all over the state and the 27th Senate District asking to leave the program alone, so I know other Legislators have received contact as well.

I cannot figure out why Governor Walker has continually tried to kill this program and why Republican Legislators would consider allowing it to happen. 2016 brought 38 projects into the Historic Tax Credit. Projects all over Wisconsin including Plymouth, Superior, Fon du Lac, Evansville, Platteville, Darlington, Waupaca, Wausau, Prairie du Chien, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Watertown, De Pere, Oshkosh, Neenah and Kenosha. I know of projects in the works in the 27th District as well.

Risser Wants Report on Alternatives to Solitary Confinement PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats   
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 10:38

jail-prisonBill would require Department of Corrections to report within one year.

fred-risserMADISON - State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) is proposing legislation that would require the Department of Corrections to prepare, within one year, a report for the legislature on the alternatives to the solitary confinement of inmates, with the goal of eliminating the practice.

Said Risser, “We are learning more and more about the psychological impacts of solitary confinement on inmates. The time is well overdue for the state to look seriously into alternatives to the practice.”

The bill is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship.

State Republicans Cut Rural School Aid, Delay Payments PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats, Tony Palese   
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 09:53

teaching-studentsGOP cuts K-12 funding, prioritizes tax breaks for foreign corporation.

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