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That was a home run. We now have a government unified around a simple, but important principle: Empowering the people–not Washington–is the way to build a better future for our country. This is a president who is serious about tackling our biggest challenges and improving people’s lives.
– House Speaker Paul Ryan on Trump’s first address to Congress.

This is a president who would like claim he is on the side of working people, but his own actions as a ‘businessman’ hurt workers and small businesses. His cabinet is full of Wall Street bankers, multi-millionaires and billionaires who took advantage of an economy rigged against working families.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, who said Trump’s speech was “full of empty promises.”

You don’t run from it. You run through it. … Talk about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If they give you the finger, give them the thumbs up.
– Gov. Scott Walker on how the House GOP should handle angry town hall meetings.

We had been planning on having an intervention at his recess town hall meetings, because he seems to be addicted to power, but he fled sometime in and around January 20, 2017, and hasn’t been seen since.
– Missing-person’s ad in the “Lost and Found” section of the Madison Craigslist seeking Ryan. Groups invited Ryan and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, to separate town hall meetings within the last two weeks. Neither attended, and constituents during each aired their grievances to an empty chair.

Obviously the middle’s getting squeezed. But there is a growing segment in both Democrat and Republican caucuses that are interested in trying to get something done, trying to find some common ground, find that bipartisanship. And we need more of that these days because I think there’s a growing frustration and an eagerness not to let the far right and the far left drive this place.
– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse.

I’m still not sure that I violated anything. But if I did, I really am the kind of person who is willing to name it, own it and fix it. And I obviously fixed it because I’m not working at the school district.
– State superintendent candidate Lowell Holtz after a WisPolitics.com forum in Milwaukee addressing calls for an investigation into his use of his school district email account for campaign-related purposes while he served as head of the Whitnall School District. He noted Evers had trouble relating to email during his first campaign. Evers had paid a $250 fine in 2009 for sending a campaign-related email to an education official’s work account.

I paid a small fine and learned the lesson on pressing the right button.
– Evers, who joined the call for an investigation into the Holtz emails, on his own infraction.

Read WisPolitics.com coverage of the forum and see the WisEye video:

There’s no question the audit revealed inefficiencies in the state highway program.
– Transportation Secretary Dave Ross, who’s been on the job for about seven weeks, fielding questions from legislators on a January audit of the agency’s highway program, which found DOT significantly underestimated costs for major highway projects among other things.

I just feel like it would be extremely inappropriate to give more money to an agency that can’t even put a budget together properly or a long-term plan together properly.
– Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, on the audit.

This is a long-term problem. This isn’t just something that’s rearing its head right now, unfortunately.
– Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, who questioned whether auditors’ legislative recommendations would fix DOT’s identified problems.

This is the last chance. They are terminal. They are going to die and this is may be giving them a little bit of hope.
– Rep. Pat Snyder, R-Wausau, urging support for his “right to try” bill that would help those with terminal illnesses access treatments that haven’t received full FDA approval. The committee voted 10-2 for an amended version of the bill, with two Dems voting for the bill and two voting against.

This bill just goes against science.
– Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, who was joined by Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, in opposing the “right to try” bill. The bill has gotten pushback from the Wisconsin Medical Society, which raised concern the legislation circumvents the typical process for ensuring treatments are safe and effective.

Wisconsin Republicans have created a rigged economic system that leaves low and middle income families behind.
– Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, during a press conference on a Dem bill that would dramatically boost tax exemptions for the middle class while phasing out the manufacturing and agriculture credit.

Their message and this policy hasn’t worked for Wisconsin in the past and won’t work for Wisconsin’s future.
– Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who said the plan amounts to a $400 million tax hike on farmers and business owners. That, he said, would drive successful employers and citizens out of the state.

Jambois’ scheduled trials were complicated, requiring significant time and attention. Under such grueling conditions, Jambois’ ability to try his cases in a satisfactory manner was completely undermined.
– A federal lawsuit from former Dane County Assistant DA Bob Jambois alleging Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne and staff overburdened him with complicated cases and took other actions as retaliation for Jambois challenging Ozanne in the DA’s race primary last August. The suit said “the extraordinary burdens placed upon him” forced Jambois’ retirement.

I wouldn’t have a response at this point. But you can say I don’t believe we did anything wrong, and I’ll look at the document files and we’ll move forward.
– Ozanne.

Ed was our organizer, our preacher, and sometimes our comedian. He was a happy warrior. On his old website, fightingbob.com, he always hung an old Irish proverb: “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join?”
– Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, in an op-ed memorializing progressive activist and attorney Ed Garvey, who died Feb. 22 at age 76.

On 100 issues, Ed and I probably agreed on 25 — if we were lucky. But he was such a great speaker, such a great writer. I just respected him so much because, even when we didn’t agree, I knew I was debating someone who believed in what he was saying and was so good at saying it.
– Former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson, who beat Garvey in the 1998 governor’s race.

… Ed never lost his wit nor his love of politics. So he had lost three elections, one against Bob Kasten for the U.S. Senate terribly unfairly back in 1986 — he wasn’t going to give up and that went for this disease as well. He defiantly showed up at last September’s Bob Fest No. 15, was helped up the steps to the stage and gave a rousing call to action like he always did. The crowd went wild. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s won out at the end, but not before Ed Garvey put his mark on this world and made it a better place for us all.
– The Capital Times’ Dave Zweifel in his column on his longtime friend.

Garvey’s services are scheduled for Saturday: http://www.cressfuneralservice.com/obituary/178708/Edward-Garvey/#services

–A collection of insider opinion–
(Feb. 25-Mar. 3, 2017)


Jason Rae: Two years ago, the political operative lost a race for state Dem chair, in part, because he was seen as too much of an insider. Now, the 30-year-old Milwaukeean is DNC secretary after wooing some of the party’s most influential members. With most of the attention on the chair race between Tom Perez — viewed as a member of the Obama-Clinton wing of the party — and Keith Ellison — from the Sanders faction — a contest for an office like secretary isn’t a flashy affair, insiders say. It’s all about shoe leather and working the 447 DNC members directly. On that front, Rae says, he made 1,700 phone calls as he sought to connect — and re-connect — with party members. He led balloting in all three rounds, eventually besting former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the incumbent. Rae ran on a platform of keeping members informed, which go to his new duties that include maintaining official records, coordinating correspondence and serving in a role at the 2020 Dem National Convention. It’s been a steady rise in the national party for Rae, who first became the youngest person ever elected to the DNC when he won a seat at 17. In addition to raising Rae’s profile, his election means state Chair Martha Laning will have the option to appoint his replacement to the DNC. Any appointment would have to be approved by the state party’s Administrative Committee and stand for election at the June convention. That Laning will have the opportunity to appoint a replacement for Rae strikes some Dems as an interesting tidbit considering she did not publicly endorse his campaign ahead of the national convention vote. Some questioned why Laning did not support a home-grown candidate for the office, but Dems saw it as leftover tension from the 2015 chair race, when Laning beat Rae for the state office. When Rae won re-election to the DNC last summer, he suggested this term would be his last on the committee. But he’s not ruling out seeking re-election to the secretary’s post in 2021.

Jim Sensenbrenner town halls: With Dems in a lather over President Trump and GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare, many Republican members of Congress would rather be anywhere than in a room packed with angry constituents for a town hall meeting that could turn viral. Not the dean of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Roll Call, citing numbers collected by the website LegiStorm, reports the Menomonee Falls Republican has done 45 town halls so far in 2017. That’s more than twice as many as the No. 2 on the list, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who’s done 19 so far in 2017. This is nothing new for Sensenbrenner, who did 95 in 2016, trailing just U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who does most of his over the radio. Though Sensenbrenner has never been afraid to face his constituents, the meetings aren’t without peril — even in a district as conservative as his. He apologized earlier this year after saying in the wake of President Trump’s travel ban that green card holders from majority-Muslim countries should be prohibited from re-entering the U.S. After his comments started to spread, Sensenbrenner issues a statement saying he “misspoke.” Still, it’s not unusual to see Sensenbrenner mix it up with opponents at the town hall meetings. He admonished those at a town hall meeting in Pewaukee last month to “be respectful” after they constantly interrupted him. It’s a stark contrast to some lawmakers who seem to dread the possibility video of such an exchange could turn up on the news. Nationally, Republicans have tried to downplay the attendance at their town hall meetings as an organized protest by outsiders rather than a spontaneous display from their constituents, even as some see shades of the early Tea Party movement at the beginning of President Obama’s administration. Who’s right may not become clear until voters go back to the polls in fall 2018, some say. But Dems hope they can tap into the energy they’re seeing from activists and keep it pulsing through the 2018 elections.

Leggie campaign spending: GOP lawmakers last session overhauled the state’s campaign finance laws, including an increase in contribution limits. So, insiders say it comes to no surprise that the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign tallies what it says is a record $28.1 million spent on the fall legislative races. WDC says it’s 66 percent higher than the $16.9 million legislative candidates and groups spent in 2014 and 39 percent more than in 2008, when the previous record of $20.2 million was spent. And a big chunk of that was driven by candidates and legislative fundraising committees, which took advantage of the new rules to spend $19.1 million, 57 percent more than the $12.1 million they did in 2014 and 45 percent more than the previous record of $13.1 million in 2008. In all, spending eclipsed $1 million in six legislative races, led by the open 18th Senate District in the Fond du Lac-Oshkosh area. Going into the 2016 elections the seat was seen as the top target for both sides before Republican Dan Feyen cruised to an easy victory over Dem Mark Harris. But along the way, the two and others combined to drop nearly $5.1 million on the race. The 14th SD, where GOP Sen. Luther Olsen easily beat back a challenge from Dem Brian Smith for the south-central Wisconsin seat, was next at about $3 million, while the 51st AD, where GOP Rep. Todd Novak beat Dem Jeff Wright in the southwestern corner of the state, came in at more than $1.4 million. The others crossing the seven-figure threshold include: the 12th SD, where Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, easily beat back a challenge from Dem Bryan Van Stippen; the 32nd SD, where Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, barely survived her rematch with Republican Dan Kapanke; and the open 85th AD, where Republican Pat Snyder defeated former Dem Rep. Mandy Wright for the Wausau-area seat.

See the report: http://www.wisdc.org/pr030217.php


UW tuition cut: Veteran budgets watchers say it’s a pretty good bet GOP lawmakers will decline to sign off on Gov. Scott Walker’s call to use $35 million in taxpayer money to cover a 5 percent tuition cut at the UW System. But what they’ll do in its place is still an open question. GOP Rep. Dale Kooyenga, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, says he’s trying to get that conversation rolling with his suggestion UW should be allowed to raise tuition pegged to inflation or household income as a way to build a sustainable policy. Walker’s budget calls for freezing tuition in 2017-18 and then cutting the 5 percent the next year for in-state undergrads. But Kooyenga, who’s vice-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said he’s concerned with the long-term effects of that move, adding inflation “peels away” at the amount of money tuition brings in for UW campuses over time. Kooyenga said he “absolutely” supports the current tuition freeze, which is now on its fourth year. But he said lawmakers need to figure out whether that type of policy is sustainable going forward that allows UW to keep up with long-term costs while ensuring students don’t see significant tuition increases. Kooyenga isn’t alone among lawmakers who have raised questions about Walker’s proposal. Various Republicans have questioned if the money would be better spent going into financial aid to help those who are less well off rather than students across the board. Some lawmakers also note UW-Madison ranks among the bottom of the Big Ten for tuition already. Do we really want the flagship campus to be known as a cheap buy? Walker, however, continues to push for his cut, writing in an op-ed UW students and their families “deserve a break.” And his backers find it amusing that lawmakers shaved $50 million off his proposed $300 million cut to the system in the 2015-17 budget, but now aren’t enthused about his efforts to pump in significant dollars to help the university grow and keep tuition low for in-state undergrads. To some insiders, there’s undoubtedly some politics at play. While Kooyenga is considered a thoughtful lawmaker, he’s also eyeing a run for the U.S. Senate next year. It doesn’t hurt to be looked at as someone looking for long-term solutions. And it wouldn’t be bad for the guv, some say, if he goes into his expected re-elect next year able to say he took on his own party to put more money into the UW and schools while cutting tuition for Wisconsin kids and their families. Still, insiders say tuition can’t stay frozen forever. So would it be better for the Capitol to continue setting rates from the other end of State Street, or should lawmakers push it back over to the regents on the other end so they don’t take the blame when it eventually creeps up? The regents have already indicated they’d like to freeze tuition next school year and then go up by the consumer price index in 2018-19. But it’s unclear if lawmakers are ready to give them back the reins.

DNR magazine: Media around the country are seeing a boost in subscriptions as some see the fourth estate under attack. Likewise, the DNR’s magazine, which the guv wants to fold, saw nearly 1,400 subscription orders roll in over just eight days, well above what’s normal. But unless the Legislature reverses Walker’s call, the magazine could be shuttered before some of the new subscriptions run out. The guv justified his proposal to close it by arguing the state shouldn’t be in the business of publishing a magazine that duplicates private periodicals. So the DNR this month eliminated the option for two- and three-year subscriptions, limiting them to a single year after Walker announced his budget.


State treasurer’s office: Republican Matt Adamczyk ran for the constitutional office on a desire to seek its elimination. He’s a little more than a year away from the voters having final say on whether they agree. The Assembly and Senate next week are set to vote on a constitutional amendment that would do away with the office. The floor votes are largely a formality after the amendment passed both houses last session. That makes the upcoming votes the final step before the amendment would go to voters on the April 2018 ballot and — if approved — wipe out the office in 2019. The proposal is not without its critics, and former Republican Treasurer Jack Voight fumes the three people who succeeded him were “flunkies” who “didn’t give a damn” about the office. He wants to see the office’s powers increased. But much like with the secretary of state’s office, there’s been a slow erosion of powers that now leaves the position little to do other than sit on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, its only official responsibility. Even with the light calendar, Adamczyk still collects $69,936 a year. He argues the office is outdated and a waste of money. Assuming the amendment clears both houses — and there’s little doubt it will — one of the next questions will be whether anyone steps forward to mount a PR campaign next year to either get voters excited about doing away with the office or to keep it. But if you’re not going to give the treasurer any responsibility, some insiders ask, what’s the point of keeping it around?

Madison-to-Dells Interstate: The guv has made clear one way to save money on roads is to simply cut back on projects. So when DOT announces it’s killing an environmental impact statement of expanding the interstate between Madison and the Dells, it’s not hard to connect the dots, insiders say. The agency writes in a letter it’s scrapping the study, which began in 2014, “due to recent and on-going reprioritization of major transportation projects.” Instead, the agency will move ahead with a review of replacing existing Wisconsin River bridges along the interstate. The study has made some locals uneasy from the start because, in addition to looking at adding new lanes from Madison to Portage, one alternative included building a parallel freeway. That, some say, was never going to fly. So why spend the money on a pointless study when some of the alternates aren’t going anywhere anyway? A better guess, some say, is the state will eventually either reconstruct the existing interstate or add some capacity. Still, the Dells tourism industry has been calling for more capacity to ease congestion from the onslaught of summer visitors, and the Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions slams the decision. President Tom Diehl, head of the Tommy Bartlett Show in the Dells, calls the decision “extremely shortsighted” after the state had already spent several million dollars studying options. He laments, “None of this would even be necessary if the governor and lawmakers could agree on a long-term funding solution to address our transportation needs.” For those who have been pushing for more revenue into the transportation fund, the decision has a layer of politics. The guv has dug in on his position the state has plenty of money thanks to the “reform dividend,” and now is not the time to raise taxes — period. This decision — and others expected to come about nixing projects — are about sticking within the parameters of existing revenues. Transportation advocates also link it to DOT Secretary Dave Ross’ recent testimony that an audit of the highway fund helped identify agency failings that he pledged to fix. Some saw it as a swipe at former Secretary Mark Gottlieb, who many believed was not on the same page as the guv when it came to transportation revenues before he retired. Others contend Ross’ response to the audit — we can do better, and we will — was not much different than what anyone else — including Gottlieb — would have said, considering the audit’s findings.

Tax refunds: The good news is the state has blocked $255.5 million in incorrect refunds since 2011, including those filed by identity thieves seeking to claim someone else’s money. The bad news is the continued efforts to crack down on fraud means at least 60,000 filers will see their refunds delayed up to 12 weeks this spring. The Department of Revenue argues it’s a necessary tradeoff to protect taxpayers. But those flagged for review — DOR says it doesn’t know how its contractor flags suspicious returns because the information is proprietary — are waiting up to an extra three months for their returns. During that window, they’re asked to verify their identity to make sure the return ends up in the right hands.


April 6: WisPolitics.com 2018 Election Cycle Preview

This happy hour event in Madison previews the political landscape in advance of the 2018 elections for governor and U.S. Senate with the Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy, Marquette Law pollster Charles Franklin and “Rewind” analysts JR Ross & Steve Walters.

See Duffy’s bio: http://cookpolitical.com/about/staff/jennifer-duffy

Check in begins at 4:30 p.m.. Program goes from 5 p.m to 7:30 p.m.


Individual Cost: $45 per person. Food included, Cash bar.
Group Cost: $400 per table with 10 seats. Food included. Cash bar.

Registration: https://eventbrite.com/e/wispoliticscom-2018-election-cycle-preview-tickets-32445498359

Location: Concourse Hotel, 1 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 257-6000

Parking: On street or in nearby Concourse, city of Madison garages. See map and directions: http://concoursehotel.com/ourhotel/madison/contact-us

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Colin D. Schmies at schmies@wispolitics.com or 608-206-0476.

Sponsored by: The Wisconsin Counties Association, Charter Communications, and The Wisconsin Grocers Association.



Vice President Mike Pence today promised the Trump administration will grow the economy “faster than ever before,” calling the president “the best friend Wisconsin businesses will ever have.”

Pence spoke in Janesville today following a listening session with local business leaders and farmers, who he said shared “candid feedback” that he’ll take back to Washington.

The former Indiana governor said he and Trump “both know the sacrifices” business owners need to make, recalling his days as an attendant when he was 14 years old at the gas station chain his father ran.

“When small business is strong, America is strong, and we’re going to fight every day for small business” Pence told employees and guests at the Blain’s Farm & Fleet distribution center.

Pence said Trump, a “president with broad shoulders and a big heart,” is already getting results, highlighting Ford’s decision to scrap a plant in Mexico and instead expand in Michigan. Trump signing off on the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines will add thousands of jobs, Pence said, and companies around the country are announcing “they’re keeping jobs and creating new ones.”

Ahead of the speech, several protesters gathered outside the distribution center as cars were waiting to enter the fenced-in parking lot. Some carried signs that read “Resist” while other supported Obamacare and public schools.

Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, touted the benefits of the Affordable Care Act on conference call with reporters. And she blasted Pence, along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, both of whom attended the event.

“[They] are here not speaking to the average citizen in Janesville,” Kolste said, but to “a few donors” about a bill that “affects the middle class more than anyone.”

She also criticized the GOP for taking swipes at the ACA “without a viable alternative,” as well as misleading constituents into thinking Obamacare is “in a death spiral.”

“I think Republicans should concentrate on the health and well being of their constituents,” she said.

See more at WisPolitics.com:


The Joint Finance Committee will begin agency briefings the last week of March with public hearings planned to start in mid-April, the offices of the co-chairs said today.

Caroline Krause, a spokeswoman for JFC Co-chair John Nygren, said the committee hopes to wrap up the agency briefings the week of March 27.

The Legislature has blocked off the following week for floor days, and the office of Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said this week the Assembly plans to take up Nygren’s latest HOPE agenda bills that week.

The committee plans to do the first of six public hearings the week of April 17. In 2015, the committee did four public hearings around the state.


Chancellors at several UW System campuses say they’re open to Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to bring performance-based funding to UW, but they say lots of details will need to be worked out.

In pitching the idea, Walker points to the example of the state’s tech colleges, where he introduced a funding model that tied money to performance on certain measures. So far, tech college leaders say their model is working well, partly due to the extensive feedback stakeholders gave in setting up metrics.

But experts and chancellors warn that bringing a similar model to UW would be far more complex. They also say Walker isn’t following his own example. With tech colleges, he and lawmakers set priorities to measure and then asked WTCS to develop the specific ways to track them. That’s the approach experts suggest when setting up performance-based funding.

“At the end of the day, this has to get implemented on the campuses,” said Dennis Jones, the president emeritus at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, a nonprofit group that consults policymakers and higher ed officials on strategic decisions.

UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer, who was president of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College when the tech college system metrics were created, said colleges spent months helping develop the WTCS formula and crunching the numbers.

Performance-based funding can be positive, he said, but it “needs to be implemented very thoughtfully.”

“We had a pretty good understanding of how this was going to work before we actually implemented it,” Meyer said.

With the WTCS model, Wisconsin is one of at least 32 states that has some version of performance-based funding at their higher education institutions, either at two-year colleges, four-year colleges or both, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Research is far from conclusive that performance-based funding is a silver bullet; in many cases, research has shown it has unintended consequences.

Walker’s budget proposal would boost UW System funding by $140 million over the biennium. Part of that would come from $42.5 million that would be divided among campuses depending how they adhere to several criteria, which include how campuses perform on college affordability, graduates’ job placement and minimizing administrative spending.

That approach is much smaller in scope than the WTCS model, which has 30 percent of the system’s state funding tied to performance.

For UW, Walker’s proposal lays out five of the seven criteria, amounting to 90 percent of the $42.5 million. The regents would get to decide two of the criteria, which make up 10 percent of the funds. Walker also outlines specific metrics to measure the criteria he proposed and asks the regents to develop a formula based on them.

His office says he “consulted extensively” with the UW System in developing the metrics, and Walker told reporters in Milwaukee last month that the language makes the regents “the ones that ultimately work with us to set the policy.”

“I think taxpayers are willing to invest more money into the University of Wisconsin System, but they want to make sure it’s performing,” he said. “They don’t just want to write a blank check. They want to make sure that the investment we make leads to more graduates in high-demand areas for people who are going to be employed here in the state of Wisconsin so they can help the economy grow.”

UW System spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said the system made suggestions at several meetings with Walker’s office and that Walker’s proposal “reflects a number of those suggestions.” The system also already tracks a wide variety of measures that are available on its Accountability Dashboard, she noted.

She said the system will “review these proposals more closely” and said the system will continue to stress “the need for the regents to play a central role in developing any performance-based formula.”

“While we have some concerns about how the metrics are structured and how the funding will be allocated, we believe the governor’s proposal offers a starting point for an important discussion,” Marquis said.

UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow and UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt both said they’ve had conversations with the UW System on the issue but those talks didn’t get into specifics on the metrics.

But they also said they’re confident they’ll have enough time to weigh in during the coming months. Walker’s budget calls on the UW System to submit a plan to the state by January outlining how it will implement performance-based funding.

“I think it’s challenging to pull that together that quickly, but again, it depends on whether all the parties can work through the issues expeditiously,” Schmidt said.

Chancellors say formula needs to recognize varying campus missions

Chancellors and experts caution that Walker’s plan might not fully consider what they call “mission differentiation,” adding they’d rather be compared to peer universities elsewhere in the country than to each other.

For example, UW-Madison, a perennial heavy hitter nationally in research, now is joined increasingly by UW-Milwaukee, which last year was designated as having some of the largest research activities on campus. But UW-Madison is much more selective in admissions than UWM, whose mission includes being accessible to the population in Wisconsin’s largest city.
Other campuses vary on their balance of priorities like teaching, research and access.

Gow, for example, said it’d make more sense to compare UW-La Crosse to a similar college in Minnesota than comparing it to Milwaukee or Madison.

Figuring out that issue, experts and chancellors say, was easier for the tech colleges, which are much more similar to each other than UW’s 13 four-year campuses.

“Each of us have different missions and different student populations,” said UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields.

Any good formula needs to recognize those variations, chancellors and experts say, and it’s not clear Walker’s proposal leaves enough room.

“That, to me, is fundamental. Yes, it can work in a university system. But again, the devil’s in the details,” said Martha Snyder, the director of the DC-based HCM Strategists, which worked with Wisconsin’s tech college system on its model.

Tom Evenson, Walker’s spokesman, said the proposed formula for UW “includes a range of different measures to allow different institutions to thrive.” For example, he said, campuses would get rewarded if they enroll high percentages of low-income students, and UW-Stout would get rewarded for its successful efforts to ensure students can get a degree in three years.

Meyer, the UW-Stout chancellor, said the metrics should be “elastic” and perhaps apply differently from campus to campus. But he also said his campus is already performing well on some of Walker’s proposed metrics, such as graduates’ job placement rates and whether students have an internship during college.

“I’d like the campus to be recognized and rewarded for that,” Meyer said.

Key lawmaker says changes to Walker’s plan are possible

Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, said that’s one of the key issues lawmakers will gather feedback on as they consider Walker’s budget proposal. Harsdorf, whose district includes UW-Stout and UW-River Falls, chairs the Senate’s higher ed committee and is a member of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

Another possible change is whether the metrics should apply to the campuses themselves — putting each of them into a competition based on rankings — or whether the model should look at systemwide metrics.

“We’re going to be looking at what the governor has proposed and make sure that it’s right for us,” she said.

Snyder, the performance-based funding consultant, said ranking institutions goes against what researchers consider a best practice.

Researchers have also highlighted several unintended consequences from performance-based funding. Columbia University Kevin Dougherty and his colleagues, for example, published a book in October interviewing officials in Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee and found some benefits to their systems. But they also found that to meet criteria, officials felt pressure and loosened their academic standards or became more selective in choosing which students get admitted.

“To pin down a really solid system is difficult,” said Schmidt, the UW-Eau Claire chancellor.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank is also raising concerns that Walker’s plan would put the performance standards in state statutes. Blank declined an interview request but wrote in a blog post the regents should be the ones to lay out the standards in UW System policy so they “function effectively and can be easily updated to meet changing state needs.”

Evenson, Walker’s spokesman, said since “all of Wisconsin has an interest in the performance of public higher education,” they should be set in state law.

“We believe these are reasonable metrics to ensure students are getting what they expect,” he said. “We will continue to work extensively with the UW System on performance-based metrics, but they should be meaningful.”

Tech college leaders say performance-based funding works well, though full effects unclear

Walker has said his proposal is similar to what’s in place at the tech colleges and that performance-based funding has been “highly effective” at WTCS.

But Walker is also proposing to change the model by removing the flexibility that colleges have in picking which metrics they’ll be judged on.

The WTCS model, in place since 2014-15, also hasn’t yet been through a thorough evaluation, a leading UW-Madison expert on performance-based funding says.

“There’s some elements of Wisconsin’s model that seem very promising …. but just because we have those things in place doesn’t mean you’re going to actually see results,” said Nick Hillman, a UW-Madison professor who’s shared his research on performance-based funding with Walker’s office.

WTCS, meanwhile, says its model uses best practices from other states, and leaders at tech colleges across the state say it’s worked well.

“It’s really been one of the best implementations that I have seen or heard about,” said Susan May, the president and CEO of Fox Valley Technical College.

Other tech college leaders, such as Gateway Technical College’s Brian Albrecht, say it’s strengthened their focus on the state’s priorities. Albrecht says since the model began, his college has become “much more aggressive” in developing partnerships with the private sector, such as providing on-the-job training for employees at Amazon’s distribution center in Kenosha or companies like Kenall Lighting.

“It helps to highlight the need to stay accountable and the need to share that story with the community,” he said.

Under the WTCS model, 30 percent of the money the state gives to the system is split up between its 16 technical colleges depending on their outcomes. Each college can pick which seven of 10 criteria it will be measured on.

WTCS spokesman Conor Smyth said since implementation, the system has seen a 27 percent increase in dual enrollment credits from high school students and a 13 percent bump in workforce training credits, where tech colleges set up training programs for employees at local companies. The system has also seen an 11 percent increase in industry-validated programs.

Similar figures for the other criteria aren’t available or easy to compare, in part because of regions’ varying demographics or local economies, Smyth said. It’s also not easy to gauge which campuses have gained or lost as a result of the change, he said.

Hillman, the UW-Madison professor, said he’d like to study the WTCS model in the future. But he said it’s got some positive aspects, such as the flexibility campuses have in picking the criteria; that might help Wisconsin avoid some of the issues other states have seen, he said.

Hillman’s research has found difficulties with performance-based funding systems in states like Washington, and he published an overview of past research on the topic last year arguing “performance-based college funding doesn’t work.”

Rep. Dave Murphy, a Greenville Republican who chairs the Assembly’s higher ed committee, said the WTCS system seems to be working and that the alternative was to “put the money out there” without any performance metrics.

Walker’s budget proposal would move the WTCS model away from letting colleges pick the seven criteria that fit them best. Instead, Evenson said, the colleges “will now be accountable for all 10 metrics.” Walker’s office says the adjustments would “prioritize Wisconsin’s education and workforce needs.”

WTCS Executive Vice President James Zylstra said the system is still evaluating the proposal, as are several other tech college leaders.

But May, the Fox Valley Technical College leader, said she’d “much prefer we keep the current model in place.”

“Frankly, the dust hasn’t even settled on this current model,” she said. “We’ve only been doing this for a couple of years. We think it’s working quite effectively, and I don’t know why we need to shift it and throw it up in the air and reconfigure it again.”


Monday: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett delivers his State of the City address.
– 8 a.m.: Harley-Davidson University & Conference Center, Milwaukee.

Tuesday: The state Ethics Commission meets.
– 9 a.m.: 212 E. Washington Ave., Madison.

Tuesday: Senate Session. Senators are to take up a constitutional amendment to eliminate the office of state treasurer.
– 11 a.m.: Senate Chamber, State Capitol.

Tuesday: Assembly Session: Representatives are to vote on “right-to-try” legislation and a bill that would allow those who have a doctor’s note to possess CBD oil.
– 1 p.m.: Assembly Chamber, State Capitol.

Thursday: Assembly Session. Members are to take up a constitutional amendment to eliminate the office of state treasurer and a bill that would ban local governments from requiring project labor agreements on public projects.
– 1 p.m.: Assembly Chamber, State Capitol.

(Check local listings for times in your area)

“UpFront with Mike Gousha” is a statewide commercial TV news magazine show airing Sundays around the state. This week’s show features Gousha’s extended interview with U.S. Sen. RON JOHNSON. They talk about the calls for an investigation into ties between the TRUMP campaign and Russia, President TRUMP’s proposed budget and more. Also on the show is new DNC Secretary JASON RAE, who talks about rebuilding the party and outreach to rural voters.
*See viewing times in state markets here: http://www.wisn.com/upfront/
*Also view the show online each Monday at WisPolitics.com

“Rewind,” a weekly show from WisconsinEye and WisPolitics.com, airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Sundays in addition to being available online. On this week’s episode, WisPolitics.com’s JR ROSS and WisconsinEye’s STEVE WALTERS discuss spending on the 2016 legislative races, “Right to Try” legislation and efforts to eliminate the state treasurer.
*Watch the show: http://www.wiseye.org/Video-Archive/Event-Detail/evhdid/11336

Wisconsin Public TV’s “Here and Now” airs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. On this week’s program, anchor FREDERICA FREYBERG talks with U.S. Reps. GLENN GROTHMAN and MARK POCAN on President TRUMP’s address to Congress. Then, Marathon County Deputy Sheriff CHAD BILLEB talks about local law enforcement and undocumented immigrants.

“For the Record” airs at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on WISC-TV in Madison. Host NEIL HEINEN discusses Operation Fresh Start, a program that supports education and job training in young people, and how it’s looking to expand in order to serve twice as many youth.

“Capitol City Sunday” airs at 9 a.m. Sunday on WKOW-TV in Madison, WAOW-TV in Wausau, WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WQOW-TV in Eau Claire.

“The Insiders” is a weekly WisOpinion.com web show featuring former state Sens. TED KANAVAS, R-Brookfield, and CHUCK CHVALA, D-Madison. This week, they talk President TRUMP, Gov. WALKER and the state superintendent race between incumbent TONY EVERS and challenger LOWELL HOLTZ.
*Watch the video:
*Listen to the show:

Send items to staff@wispolitics.com

Save the dates for these upcoming WisPolitics.com events: a March 16 luncheon in Madison with Dem leaders PETER BARCA and JENNIFER SHILLING; a March 21 DC breakfast with Sen. RON JOHNSON; and an April 6 happy hour event in Madison previewing the 2018 election cycle with the Cook Political Report’s JENNIFER DUFFY, Marquette Law pollster CHARLES FRANKLIN and “Rewind” analysts JR ROSS & STEVE WALTERS.

*March 16 sign-up info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wispolitics-luncheon-with-legislative-minority-leaders-tickets-31160876019

*March 21 sign-up info: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/wispolitics-com-d-c-breakfast-with-u-s-sen-ron-johnson/

*April 6 sign-up info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wispoliticscom-2018-election-cycle-preview-tickets-32445498359

For sponsor information, contact: schmies@wispolitics.com

Listen to the first of four WisPolitics.com Book Club podcasts this month. It features former Gov. MARTIN SCHREIBER on his book “My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver”: https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/wispol-book-club-martin-schreiber-final-cut

Sign up for the WisPolitcs.com Book Club to get email notice of Book Club podcast releases: info@wispolitics.com

WisPolitics.com has compiled a subscribers-only directory of senior staffers for Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. View the directory here: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/wispolitics-com-congressional-staff-directory/

ERIC FINCH, who described himself as an attorney and activist, announced today he will run for Dem state chair this summer. Finch, 30 and a Seattle native, said he first came to Madison in 2011 before moving here full-time in 2014. He expressed a dissatisfaction with the direction of the state and the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Chair MARTHA LANING has already said she plans to seek re-election at the June state party convention and BRYAN KENNEDY, the Glendale mayor and former AFT Wisconsin president, also has announced plans to run. See Finch’s statement: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/eric-finch-campaign-announces-candidacy-for-dpw-chair/

ERIC LOBNER has been named the new DNR Director of the Wildlife Management program. He previously held a number of positions within the wildlife management program, including as a technician at various wildlife areas and wildlife biologist out of the Horicon office. See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/wisconsin-department-of-natural-resources-eric-lobner-named-director-of-dnrs-wildlife-management-program/

Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance TED NICKEL in February appointed CHARLOTTE KLENKE to serve as chief legal counsel at the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/oci-commissioner-nickel-appoints-charlotte-klenke-as-chief-legal-counsel/

MICHAEL GREBE, the son of the former Bradley Foundation CEO, will be the new chief legal officer at Aurora Health Care. Grebe, who’s on the UW System Board of Regents, is currently the executive vice president and general counsel at the manufacturer HUSCO International, Inc. He was previously a partner at the law firm Quarles & Brady LLP. See the release: http://www.aurorahealthcare.org/media-center/news-releases/aurora-health-care-names-new-chief-legal-officer

STEVE SCAFFIDI recently resigned as mayor of Oak Creek to join WTMJ-AM (620) and co-host a mid-afternoon talk show with ERIK BILSTAD, WTMJ executive news producer. The show launched Feb. 28.

The Midwest Growth PAC TV ad won “Best Overall Ad for a Congressional Independent Expenditure” from the Campaigns and Elections Magazine. The ad was done by The Lukens Company and is called “Badgertank.” See more: https://www.campaignsandelections.com/campaign-insider/2017-reed-award-winners

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has elected Executive Manager of Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison DAN BROWN to its board of directors. Brown has worked for the Ho-Chunk Nation for more than 23 years. He’s served as executive manager since 2000. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/greater-madison-chamber-of-commerce-ho-chunks-dan-brown-elected-to-chamber-board-of-directors/

The Fourteenth Annual Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award banquet’s keynote speaker this year is author TOM FARLEY of Madison. He’ll share stories of his family’s enterprises as well as his experience as head of the Chris Farley Foundation. The banquet is May 4 in Madison. Register: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07edtvaupu80006494&llr=n69dqacab

The 11th Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference will be held April 18. Featured speakers include authors SHERRI SMITH, PAOLO BACIGALUPI, EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL, JULIAN AGYEMAN and STEWART BRAND. Register: https://nelson.wisc.edu/events/earth-day/2017/registration.php

ANDREA GUGEL is now government affairs specialist at the The Wisconsin Credit Union League. She previously worked at the state Department of Health Services as executive assistant to the deputy secretary and state Medicaid director. See the release:

The UW-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics announced six finalists for 2017 Anthony Shadid Award in Journalism Ethics. They include Mother Jones reporter SHANE BAUER, The Spotlight team at the Boston Globe, Associated Press reporter HANNAH DREIER, KATHY GANNON’s “Honor Bound” series for The Associated Press, The Palm Beach Post for one of its front pages and The Guardian reporter LAUREN WOLFE. See more: http://news.wisc.edu/center-for-journalism-ethics-announces-finalists-for-shadid-award/

The Milwaukee Press Club announced Washington Post reporter DAVID FAHRENTHOLD is the club’s 2017 Sacred Cat Award recipient. The award recognizes excellence in journalism at the national level. He’ll accept the award at the club’s annual Gridiron Dinner on May 12 in Milwaukee.

The UW-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics’ annual conference will be held March 31. The all-day event features a keynote conversation from The Washington Post’s MARGARET SULLIVAN and other speakers, including FRONTLINE Executive Producer RANEY ARONSON-RATH, Politico’s KEN VOGEL, Washington Post fact checker MICHELLE LEE, CJE founder STEPHEN WARD and JILL GEISLER, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University-Chicago. See more: https://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/conference/2017-conference/

For more Names in the News, see subscriber products from earlier in the week plus the press release page at WisPolitics.com: https://www.wispolitics.com/

For upcoming events, see the “Week Ahead” in this product and in your e-mail Monday morning. Click here for the online calendar: https://www.wispolitics.com/category/events/

If you have a contribution, e-mail staff@wispolitics.com

(from the state Ethics Commission)

Fifty-one changes were made to the lobbying registry in the past 10 days.

Follow this link for the complete list:

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