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Foxconn can categorically state that our commitment to create 13,000 jobs and to invest US$10 billion to build our state-of-the-art Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Wisconsin remains unchanged.
– Foxconn in a statement after a report said the Taiwanese manufacturer was planning to scale back its investment into its Racine County campus and shift away from plans to build large-panel displays.

It’s clear that the $4.5 billion Foxconn gamble has become an albatross instead of the golden goose Gov. Walker thought it would be.
– Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, joining a chorus of Dems responding to the initial report. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson tweeted Dems “couldn’t wait to attack using a false report” and that the reaction proves “they care more about political attacks than family-supporting jobs.”

He took me aside and said, “You have nothing to worry about from me; I’m not running.”
– Dem guv candidate Matt Flynn at a WisPolitics.com/Milwaukee Press Club luncheon saying that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told him he’s going to pass on another bid for governor.

*See more from the luncheon in an item below.

We do not believe that DNR should have granted this review. DNR should have exercised its more traditional level of respect toward the independent administrative law judge. Integrity of independent judicial review is at risk when DNR becomes the judge of its own actions.
– A statement from Clean Wisconsin, the Ho-Chunk Nation and Midwest Environmental Advocates after news a DNR attorney will review and decide whether to honor an administrative law judge’s decision invalidating a frac sand mining permit for Meteor Timber.

We worked with the DNR and US Army Corps for over 30 months to develop a comprehensive mitigation plan with a mitigation ratio of nearly 40 to 1. Equally important, is that this project if approved creates and preserves 630 acres into perpetuity, which can be enjoyed by hunters, fisherman and ATV enthusiasts.
– Meteor Timber project manager Chris Mathis in a statement.

Today, Congress restored a little freedom and hope to terminally ill Americans.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, lauding House passage of his so-called “Right to Try” bill that aims to allow the terminally ill to take advantage of experimental medical treatments as a last resort. The bill now heads to President Trump, who has voiced support for the legislation.

The current state of partisan politics and sheer gridlock at the state have made this choice a little easier.
– Dem Rep. Leon Young, who announced he will not seek re-election and will return to the Milwaukee Police Department. Young, 50, was a police officer before his election to the Assembly in 1992.

Black men shouldn’t have to have their guard up and instantly be on the defensive when seeing a police officer, but it’s our reality and a real problem. There must be mutual respect and both sides have to figure out how to accomplish this.
– Milwaukee Bucks forward Sterling Brown on release of body cam video showing his confrontation with police, and subsequent tasing and arrest, over the way he parked outside a Milwaukee drug store in January. The police department apologized and said the officers “acted inappropriately.” Several of the officers involved were disciplined. Meanwhile, Brown has said he is considering a civil rights lawsuit.

As a human being, I am offended by what I saw on the video. As mayor, I am committed to improving police-community relations.
– Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The way he interprets reality suggests that maybe he needs to have some serious self-reflection and see if he can continue to do the job he’s doing. He’s wrong. He’s absolutely wrong.
– Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello in a WTMJ interview after Barrett knocked the union for a statement that said with understaffing, “negative outcomes are inevitable!” Barrett said the union rebuffed his calls to lobby for more money to fund police.

Body cameras can provide documentation so a thorough investigation can be completed & individuals can be held accountable, & they also provide validation in other instances where law enforcement professionals are doing what they were trained to do under difficult circumstances.
– Gov. Scott Walker in a tweet. The Republican governor also wrote the video shows “why body cameras are so important to our legal system,” adding they were good for the public and law enforcement.

–A collection of insider opinion–
(May. 19-25, 2018)


Mahlon Mitchell: Endorsements largely only matter when they come with infrastructure, money, or preferably, both, insiders note. Mitchell’s backing from AFSCME isn’t expected to be a financial windfall with the union’s rolls and finances decimated by Act 10. Still, stacked on top of the AFL-CIO, SEIU and other endorsements, the union backing could help deliver voters to the polls in a crowded August primary where turnout is crucial. That Mitchell is winning union support is no surprise. After all, he’s the head of the statewide firefighters union and ran statewide as the lieutenant governor candidate in the 2012 recall elections after rising to prominence in the fight against Act 10. Even with the support, insiders say his upcoming challenge is to turn that backing into individual donations and support from outside organized labor. It also remains an open question how much money labor may put into the wide-open Dem primary considering every dollar spent to get a candidate through Aug. 14 is one less to put toward beating Scott Walker in November. Still, as insiders look at the crowded Dem field, they’re busy doing the math on what it may take to win the party’s nomination. Considering some 670,000 voters turned out in 2012 Dem guv primary for the recall election and some believe 30 percent could be enough to win, that’s a little more than 200,000 votes. In looking at the field, only Mitchell and Tony Evers have pulled that kind of support in statewide elections. Mitchell got nearly 1.2 million votes in the 2012 recall, but some still see that as more driven by a protest of Walker’s Act 10 than an embrace of the candidate. Evers, meanwhile, garnered 495,000 votes in 2017 and 487,000 in 2013. Add in his statewide runs with his name ID, and that’s helped feed the perception that he’s one — if not the — frontrunner for the nomination. And his campaign releases a poll this week showing him up on Walker 49-45 among registered voters. Considering his past support from WEAC, he’d also seem like the natural “teacher” candidate. Still, the statewide teachers union is not endorsing ahead of the primary. Republicans, meanwhile, look at the union support in the primary and note Walker would love nothing more than to run against an Act 10 candidate, saying it would give him the opportunity to re-litigate his case again of siding with taxpayers over “big union bosses.” Then again, some add, no matter who Dems tap, the candidate will likely face some of that. Looking big picture, insiders are still waiting to see which Dem candidates can break free from the pack financially to run a sprint of paid media in the final three to four weeks ahead of the August primary, saying that’s when the race will really start to heat up.

*See more in the WisPolitics.com gubernatorial election guide: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018-governors-race/

Leah Vukmir: A $29,000 radio buy won’t flip the dynamic in a statewide race, insiders say, especially when your opponent has benefitted from millions in TV ads. Still, the state GOP’s first foray into paid media for its endorsed U.S. Senate candidate is a sign to some insiders that the party is going all in on Vukmir to get her through the August primary. They also note that play carries some risk for the state GOP, which indicated ahead of the endorsement vote that the party’s backing would include support such as infrastructure and access to donor lists. The ad, coming on the heels of a statewide tour of RPW victory offices, praises Vukmir as a “proven conservative,” pulling language directly from Vukmir’s stump speech meant to raise questions about rival Kevin Nicholson’s background as a Dem. Insiders question what else is to come from the party — and the risk it’s taking. On the one hand, if the party doesn’t put its full weight behind Vukmir and she fails to win the primary Aug. 14, it will call into question the value of the party’s endorsement. On the other, if the GOP goes all in on Vukmir, but Nicholson wins, how will that relationship function when it comes to the ultimate goal of beating Dem U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin? Nicholson backers note Vukmir has a hill to climb considering polls — from his campaign and the outside groups backing him — that have shown him leading by significant margins. Will the endorsement and party support give Vukmir a bump? Nicholson has largely relied on out-of-state consultants for his campaign and has not been shy about running as an outsider. So when Vukmir won the party’s endorsement with nearly 73 percent of the vote, his backers shrugged it off. Still, Nicholson also parts ways with campaign manager John Vinson, who had experience working in Wisconsin politics and with RPW before joining the campaign. A Nicholson spokesman insists things are still full-steam ahead, but some note it’s the second significant staff change for Nicholson in about six months after he replaced the consultants who helped launch his bid with Axiom Strategies in November. The two candidates aren’t that far apart on issues, so some Republicans continue to worry the race will become a matter of personality and style, increasing the possibility it could be bruising. Some on the right also fret the two are so focused on wooing the party base that they risk having the inability to make a play for the middle come November. Case in point is both proclaiming themselves “100 percent pro-life,” as in no exceptions when it comes to abortion and backing new restrictions on stem cell research. The GOP has been losing ground with several demographics, particularly educated, suburban women. That’s not the kind of position that’s going to help win them back, insiders say. Overall, the Wisconsin race seems to have faded somewhat in the national pecking order. For one thing, Donald Trump’s performance in states like North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and West Virginia make those much more attractive targets to try beating red-state Dems, insiders say. And with that pecking order, it’s an open question whether outside groups will pour resources into Wisconsin that would negate Baldwin’s healthy financial advantage over her potential GOP rivals.

Legislative retirements: To insiders, there’s something appropriate about Milwaukee Dem Leon Young announcing he won’t seek re-election well after the deadline to file a notice of non-candidacy. After all, his 1992 bid for the Assembly was aided by his aunt’s last-minute announcement she wouldn’t seek re-election to the seat. With Marcia Coggs’ late move, Young and Robert Bauman, a Milwaukee lawyer who had previously run unsuccessfully for city alderman, were the only Dems who filed papers by the deadline to run, and Young went on to win the primary with more than 63 percent of the vote. Now, five days after the deadline for incumbents to file their notices of non-candidacy, Young says he’s leaving the state Legislature to return to the Milwaukee Police Department, where he worked before his 1992 election. As Young approaches the end of his 26th year in the Assembly, few insiders can remember the last time he accomplished something meaningful. He regularly showed up on rankings of the worst legislators, and when he did try something, it didn’t always come off the right way. He complained this spring that Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, pulled him from three committee assignments and took away a part-time staffer as punishment for pushing a floor amendment to ban assault weapons. But others in caucus saw the episode as what happens when you don’t have a reputation for helping the team and you catch your colleagues off guard with a poorly worded amendment that could have affected hunting rifles. As news breaks that Young won’t seek re-election, so does word that Milwaukee County Supv. Supreme Moore Omokunde told the incumbent a couple of weeks ago that he planned to run for the Assembly seat. Young has beaten back primary challenges before, including winning 49.2 percent of the vote in a four-way 2016 primary. Still, Young’s district has been changing with the development around the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, meaning new constituents to go out and woo, and Young has not been known as a prolific fundraiser. What’s more, Omokunde, some Milwaukee Dems say, would have been a significantly tougher challenge than what Young has faced before. The son of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, Omokunde was in the news 14 years ago when he was arrested for slashing the tires on vans the state GOP had planned to use to deliver voters to the polls. Republicans howled about the episode at the time, but some Dems say he has paid the price, grown up and served on the board for three years. Insiders expect other Dems to at least consider getting in considering it’s a deep, deep blue district that doesn’t come open very often. Young becomes the 15th member of the Assembly who began in the 2017-18 session to decide against seeking re-election this fall. And because he didn’t file his notice on non-candidacy on time, those seeking to run for the seat will have an extra three days — until June 4 — to turn in their nomination papers, unless Young changes his mind. To some insiders, that has a certain circle-of-life aspect to it. After all, Coggs’ last-minute maneuver to help her nephew 26 years ago led to a change in state law to make sure possible candidates had extra time to file signatures if an incumbent tried something similar.

Ron Johnson: The Republican’s effort to pass “right-to-try” legislation finally succeeds as the House signs off on the legislation and sends it to the desk of President Trump, who has publicly supported the measure. Johnson, R-Oshkosh, has pushed the legislation as a way to give hope to the very ill by allowing them to receive experimental drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Opponents, though, have pointed out the right-to-try movement has been pushed by the conservative Goldwater Institute, a free market think tank based in Arizona. And they point out patients can access experimental drugs through an existing FDA program. But backers counter it gives those with terminal illnesses the opportunity to try experimental medications if several conditions are met, including that they have passed phase one of clinical trials. Johnson introduced the measure, the federal counterpart to legislation passed in Wisconsin and 39 other states, in 2016. It cleared the Senate the following year before bogging down in the House. Finally, the House signed off on the same version as the one Johnson introduced, sending it to the president’s desk.


Court-appointed attorneys: The Wisconsin Supreme Court is directing that court-appointed attorneys get a raise. But the order doesn’t include money for counties to help cover the costs, and it doesn’t impact the rate for state-funded public defenders, who are stuck at $40 an hour. A coalition of lawyers and judges petitioned the court to increase the rate to $100 from $70, tie future increases to cost-of-living increases and take action that would essentially declare the state-funded $40 an hour public defenders receive “unreasonable.” The court, though, only approves increasing the rate for court-appointed attorneys that counties hire when the defendants do not meet the eligibility requirements for a public defender, but can’t afford a private attorney on their own. In those cases, the counties often appoint an attorney, cover the costs up front and then seek repayment from the defendant. But that doesn’t always balance out. According to numbers from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin counties paid $4.3 million for court-appointed attorneys in 2015 while recouping $2.5 million. The court has yet to issue its final order, leaving some questions unanswered, including when it will kick in. The later that is, some note, the closer it would be to the next state budget, when lawmakers could be asked to help cover the costs. Those pushing for an increase in the public defender rate, meanwhile, hope the court’s order will help bolster their case with lawmakers to finally increase the $40-an-hour rate, the lowest in the nation. Backers of the increase note many counties are having a hard time finding private attorneys willing to take on cases at that rate. But bumping it to $100 an hour would cost around $32 million a year. And while backers say legislators are sympathetic to their cause, they also haven’t been willing to cover the cost.

Foxconn: A Japanese-based business publication touches off a brief fury when it reports Foxconn Technology Group is considering cutting back on its $10 billion investment in Wisconsin. The publication quickly revises the article to remove that assertion, while continuing to report the company is considering shifting to smaller panels rather than the large displays the company heralded in its announcement of the Wisconsin plant. Still, the reaction the story prompts underscores to insiders what a political hot potato the project is and how sensitive supporters are to any kind of negative headline as they try to build backing for the project outside southeastern Wisconsin. Shortly after the Nikkei Asian Review report, based on “people familiar with the matter,” Foxconn releases a statement saying the story is “inaccurate and not based on any facts” and that its commitment to create 13,000 jobs and invest $10 billion “remains unchanged.” Still, the statement also says the company is “adopting a phased approach with the construction of facilities.” The first phase includes producing panels that “will be used in a wide range of applications that impact consumers’ daily lives,” including notebooks, monitors and more. Previously, the company had only talked about manufacturing “the world’s most advanced large-sized LCD panels which will be used in a wide range of technologies.” Immediately after the Nikkei story broke, Dems seized on the news to accuse Foxconn of breaking yet another promise, pointing to planned projects elsewhere in the world that did not live up to the company’s initial announcement. To insiders, there’s no mystery why. Polling has shown the project is unpopular outside of the area immediately around the project in Racine County, and the taxpayer investment is not playing well with swing voters. Project backers, though, push back hard on the Dem message, accusing them of rooting for the project to fail. And Gov. Scott Walker has continued to warn the project won’t live up to its potential unless he’s re-elected. He claims the Dem field is looking to undercut the project, a move he says would dissuade other businesses from coming to Wisconsin. Meanwhile, backers also continue looking to play up what they see as the ripple effect from the project, the latest example a $250 million hospital and medical office in Mount Pleasant that Advocate Aurora Health plans to build in anticipation of growth from the plant.

*Track Foxconn at WisBusiness.com, where subscribers see daily updates. And see a report from a WisBusiness.com event on Foxconn: http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=391228


Paul Ryan: The Janesville Republican wants to be talking about the House advancing right-to-try legislation, rolling back Dodd-Frank and signing off on legislation to make changes at the VA. Instead, he’s forced to defend his control of the House Republican conference amid new stories that some want him to step down. Plus, he’s dealing with a caucus that rejected the farm bill and has members siding with Dems to force a vote on immigration legislation over his objections. There’s even the startling acknowledgment from White House budget director Mick Mulvaney that he’s had discussions with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — Ryan’s preferred successor — about replacing the Janesville Republican as speaker before he retires after this session. According to reports, Mulvaney said it could be beneficial to force Dems in tight races to go on record on whether they support Nancy Pelosi as the next speaker. Amid it all, Ryan reminds reporters in Washington, D.C., that “members drafted me into this job because of who I am and what I stand for,” saying the caucus backs completing the GOP agenda and “having a divisive leadership election at this time would prevent us from doing that.” When Ryan announced he was stepping away from the House after this term, he promised to run through the finish line. And the House has continued to check off priorities such as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s right-to-try legislation, which allows those with terminal illnesses to try experimental drugs. Ryan has also continued to pull in money for the House GOP cause this fall, including attending recent events for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a leadership-backed super PAC. So the idea there are members pining for his departure is inconceivable to some in Wisconsin. Still, others point out this is the danger in being a lame-duck speaker. Ryan no longer has promises to hand out on committee assignments or bills, taking away some leverage on an already unruly caucus that has been roiled at times by its conservative wing. That faction helped take down the farm bill, and tensions between conservatives and moderates have led to some members signing a petition that would force a vote on immigration, perhaps the most divisive issue for Republicans these days. Leadership has whipped against the effort, with McCarthy going as far as saying it would cost Republicans their majority. That leadership has so elevated the issue baffles some considering anything that came out of the House would likely die in the Senate. What’s more, the proposal to give young undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship is already facing a veto threat from President Trump unless it includes funding for a border wall. It all adds up to what could be a significant distraction for Ryan as he tries to keep GOP coffers flush with cash and maintain an agenda that some hope could mitigate predicted mid-term losses.

Epic employees: A 5-4 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court deals a double blow to workers at the massive healthcare software company just outside Madison. One, the court rules companies can prohibit employees from using class-action suits to resolve workplace disputes, dealing a serious blow to a lawsuit from company technical writers. Observers also note the ruling will impact tens of millions of low-wage, non-unionized workers who likely would find it too expensive to bring complaints on their own rather than through a class-action suit. Liberals protest the decision undermines worker rights, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg call the decision “egregiously wrong.” She predicts it will lead to underenforcement of federal and state statutes to protect vulnerable workers. Justice Neil Gorsuch, however, writes in the majority opinion that Epic employee contracts are clearly valid under arbitration law. Conservatives also counter the claims that workers will be hurt, saying the decision simply upholds contracts Epic employees signed. The decision also could upend another lawsuit filed by company quality assurance workers, who claim they were improperly classified as exempt from overtime pay rules. Citing the court’s 5-4 ruling, a federal judge in Madison has set a June 12 deadline for those workers to explain why the suit shouldn’t be dismissed.

Wingra Redi-Mix: The company’s eight-year fight to remove some of its property from protected burial mound status is rejected by a split state Supreme Court in a decision that leaves some court observers unhappy for what it doesn’t say. The company has been trying to determine if there are actually human remains in mounds on Dane County property it has operated as a gravel pit since 1961 and owned since 1982. According to court records, seven Native American effigy mounds were identified and mapped in 1914 on the property, and in 1989 and 1990, the Dane County Indian Mounds Identification project studied the site and found a bird effigy and a portion of a tailed mammal remained. The property was protected as a burial site in 1991, and Wingra did not challenge the finding at the time. Since then, it has mined around the mound group, resulting in a 50-foot tall mesa in the middle of the quarry, according to the company. But in 2010, it sent a letter to the Burial Sites Preservation Board asking the mounds to be removed, arguing there was no definitive evidence of human remains at the site. It also asked the State Historical Society for a permit to disturb three “anomalies” at the site to confirm they were not human remains. Both efforts were rebuffed by the two organizations, resulting in separate lawsuits and appeals court rulings in both cases going against the company before it went to the state Supreme Court. But the justices split in both cases with conservative Daniel Kelly not participating, meaning the appeals court rulings stand. Beyond the court cases, the company has also sought legislative remedies. But an effort in the 2015-16 session to give property owners more leeway to investigate the contents of burial mounds stalled in the face of intense criticism from Wisconsin tribes, including the Ho-Chunk, which also urged the courts to reject Wingra’s lawsuits. After that bill died, lawmakers went to a special study group seeking to find a compromise. That produced legislation that was signed into law this session that specified the types of evidence that the director of the Wisconsin Historical Society must consider when determining whether to record a burial site and creates a new procedure for landowners wishing to contest the agency director’s decision. But the bill was not retroactive, and Wingra’s representative on the special study committee didn’t support it. Meanwhile, how the court broke down on the case is a mystery, because the justices’ votes were not detailed. That prompted a complaint from Justice Shirley Abrahamson that the court has changed its practice in cases where it is evenly divided, but has failed to explain why. Abrahamson wrote she catalogued 115 court decisions between 1885 and 2016 in which the names of the participating justices were presented and 26 from 1849 through 2016 in which they were not. Since then, she wrote, there have been two cases in which the court was equally divided; in neither were the participating justices names and votes included. Abrahamson was replaced as chief justice by Pat Roggensack in May 2015. Abrahamson wrote the dominant practice has been to list the names and votes, though the court has not been consistent.


May 29: The Future of Work

Please join Millennial Action Project in partnership with WisPolitics.com for a roundtable conversation
about the future of the Fox Valley featuring:

Wisconsin Future Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Amanda Stuck, D-Appleton, an Congressional Future Caucus Vice-Chair
Congressman Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay.

Moderated by Millennial Action Project Founder Steven Olikara.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 @ 4:00 PM

Appleton Beer Factory, 603 W. College Ave., Appleton, WI 54911

Complimentary food and beverages will be provided

Register here: https://millennialaction.org/future-of-the-fox-valley/?rq=fox%20valley



After eight public hearings across the state in five months, the co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding are split on the extent and nature of changes they could propose to the formula.

Still, both Sen. Luther Olsen and Rep. Joel Kitchens say they’ll meet Speaker Robin Vos’ call to “be bold” in the group’s recommendations as they zone in on aiding districts with declining enrollment, addressing special education reimbursement rates and more.

The two also said in separate interviews with WisPolitics.com this week they don’t anticipate the commission will touch school choice or open enrollment, two topics they had said were on the table when the body was first announced in December.

Still, Olsen and Kitchens, who are also both chairs of their chambers’ respective education committees, said they were looking at some changes to the formula, although they differed as to how far the commission would go to alter it.

Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, left the door open to “completely overhauling it,” saying it’s “pretty clear there will be some fundamental changes we will recommend, but the extent of that is up in the air.” Olsen, R-Ripon, was more measured, emphasizing the need to provide more funding to districts with declining enrollments.

“I don’t see us overhauling the whole thing … (The formula) works really, really well for slowly increasing school districts. It doesn’t work so well if you’re stagnant, and it really works bad if you’re declining,” Olsen said.

Currently, as school districts lose students, the per-pupil revenue they get from the state decreases by around $10,500 on average per student, according to the Department of Public Instruction. Enrollment is calculated on a three-year, rolling average.

“Obviously your costs don’t go down by $10,000 when you lose a student,” Kitchens said. “So that’s, I think, one of the real key things — and I think that was one of the basic faults from the beginning in the system — is that districts that are losing students are really struggling because it’s just not fair.”

Roughly two-thirds of school districts are in declining enrollment, according to DPI. The districts range in size and demographics.

Kitchens said it was possible the commission would look at whole grade sharing as another way to address the issue. Under the practice, one district sends its students to another for instruction.

He added the commission should “look at some creative ways for districts to be able to combine services as well as to consolidate (districts).”

But Olsen said the body hasn’t “really had anybody come in to talk to us about that yet.”

Gov. Scott Walker last year nixed an Assembly GOP budget provision that sought to create grants to encourage the practice.

Kitchens also pointed to potentially creating a clearer path in state law to allow for the creation of more K-8 districts as an option to consolidate school services across declining enrollment districts. Currently, there’s no option to organize as a K-8 district, according to DPI, but it’s unclear whether that would hold up in court.

“Towns are so afraid of losing their identity if they lose their schools, but if you can do some of these things, then maybe you can allow those towns to still have their elementary schools then just share a high school,” he said.

Olsen also mentioned tweaking a component of the three-tiered equalization aid formula to better ensure districts that increase their revenue aren’t losing state aid.

“We have school districts that raise revenue through taxes. And they have to raise more than they are going to spend, because of their negative tertiary aid, so a percent of that they lose in state aid,” he said. “It’s a disincentive to increase their revenue.”

The tertiary aid tier of the formula seeks to hold in check those districts that spend a lot of money and aid others with extremely low property values.

DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said if there’s no increase in state aid, the approximately 25 percent of districts currently impacted by negative tertiary aid would see a boost in state support and lower property taxes. But most other districts would see a property tax increase.

Olsen also said he’s open to making changes in the secondary aid tier. That tier’s cost ceiling is 90 percent of the statewide average cost across each district, a level Olsen said should be raised, possibly to 100 percent.

Bumping up the tier’s cost ceiling, McCarthy said, would mean some 95 percent of districts would see an increase through the secondary tier of the foruma, the primary driver for aid to districts.

Dem commissioner Rep. Sondy Pope, of Mt. Horeb, knocked the suggestions, saying the ideas didn’t go far enough to affect the formula’s fundamental problems.

“From what I’m looking at right now, we’re going to offer up a suggestion to further tweak a funding formula that has failed and I wanted more from this,” she said, after WisPolitics.com summarized Olsen’s and Kitchens’ comments to her.

Pope also noted much of the testimony the commission heard revolved around putting the brakes on the expansion of private school vouchers, adding she was “disappointed” the co-chairs seemed to have “taken off vouchers as part of the discussion.”

And she stressed the need to invest more money into K-12, saying “it is absolutely clear to me that the school districts and the public feel that we need to increase financial resources for schools.”

“If we don’t add considerably more financial resource to schools, I don’t think that we are really responding to what we heard because that was clearly asked for,” she said.

Meanwhile, on special education, Olsen said the commission has heard from many districts that are asking for an increase in the reimbursement rate after having to use regular education money, or Fund 10, to pay for special education costs.

DPI had previously requested an increase in the amount of money available to reimburse districts, with the intent to raise reimbursement rates to 28 percent in 2017-18 and 30 percent in 2018-19. The current rate, 26 percent, stayed static after those requests weren’t included in the budget.

Still, the budget did include an upper in the high-cost special education reimbursement rate. Under the change, if a district incurs more than $30,000 in special education costs for one student, the district would be reimbursed at 90 percent instead of 70 percent.

Neither Olsen nor Kitchens seem to have the appetite to go beyond a new plan to boost the revenue ceiling for low-spending districts. Under the sparsity aid law Walker signed earlier this year, districts now capped at spending $9,100 per year on students through a mix of property taxes and state aid would see that limit go up to $9,400 in 2018-19. The cap would then increase $100 annually to $9,800 in 2022-23.

“We really did that in the legislation, so I think we’ve got that covered,” Olsen said.

And Kitchens also said he could anticipate legislation from the commission to encourage retired educators to come back and substitute teach in schools, based on concerns surrounding the state’s teacher shortage.

Following the commission’s hearing in Madison June 4, Olsen and Kitchens are planning to sit down individually with each member along with representatives from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to see what legislation they’d like to come out of the body.

The 16-member commission includes nine lawmakers and seven education experts, including superintendents from Green Bay and Grantsburg, two representatives from Milwaukee-area Catholic schools, a UW-Madison professor, a member of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and a representative from Cooperative Educational Service Agency 6.

While the commission’s original plan was to slide the recommendations into the next biennial budget, Kitchens said it could ultimately be a combination of standalone bills and budget recommendations, depending on what provisions Walker would get behind.

Hear Olsen’s interview:

Hear Kitchens’:


Eight of the top nine Democratic gubernatorial campaigns have already verified they have the required amount of signatures to speak at their party’s convention in Oshkosh next week.

Meanwhile, Paul Soglin’s campaign said the Madison mayor is planning to do so this afternoon ahead of today’s 5 p.m. deadline.

The state Dem Party is requiring campaigns to verify with the party they have at least 2,000 signatures to turn into the state Elections Commission by June 1 to secure a speaking spot at the convention.

So far today, the campaigns of Tony Evers, Kelda Roys, Andy Gronik, Mike McCabe, Matt Flynn Kathleen Vinehout, Dana Wachs and Mahlon Mitchell said they’ve verified at least 2,000 signatures with the party.

Though the party doesn’t require it yet, Flynn and McCabe have already turned their signatures into the Elections Commission, which has reported 3,548 valid signatures for Flynn and 3,936 for McCabe.

A spokeswoman said the Dem Party will announce Tuesday which candidates met the signature threshold to speak at convention. All of the guv candidates who qualify will speak on the night of June 1, the first day of the convention.

Along with the the nine candidates who have received the most media attention, a half-dozen others have registered with the state to run for guv as Dems. Paul Boucher, of Green Bay, gave WisPolitics.com an incomplete answer as to whether he’s collected enough signatures. The others did not immediately return a request for comment.


Democratic candidate Matt Flynn says he’d use his power as governor to tackle mass incarceration within the state.

“I will empty the jails and press for much lower sentences,” Flynn said during a WisPolitics.com/Milwaukee Press Club luncheon in Milwaukee on Tuesday. “Mass incarceration is one of my concerns, and I think that’s an issue that sets me apart.”

While Flynn said those who commit murder or rape deserve long sentences, those convicted of non-violent crimes like possession of marijuana, which he seeks to legalize, shouldn’t be behind bars.

Flynn said if his plan to fully legalize, regulate and tax marijuana doesn’t win approval, he’d use his pardon power as governor to free those convicted of possession.

“Even if I can’t get it legalized, I’m going to put out a message to the judges of this state: ‘If you convict them of marijuana possession at 10 in the morning, I will pardon and free them at two in the afternoon,'” he said.

Flynn also said there are “cowboy judges” who hand out long sentences. To pressure judges to use more restraint in sentencing, he would require them to calculate the costs.

“So if he goes in front of the taxpayers and says, ‘I’m a tough cowboy,’ somebody can run against them, and say, ‘you’re a wasteful cowboy, and let’s just get this down a little bit,'” Flynn said.

And that’s just one of the ways Flynn, who served as state Dem Party chair from 1981-1985, said he differs from the rest of the crowded Dem field.

Flynn, a Vietnam War-era Navy veteran who turns 71 in October, is one of the oldest candidates in a relatively young field. He said he got involved in Democratic politics when the cast included people like Gaylord Nelson, William Proxmire, Les Aspin, Dave Obey and others. He said he worked closely with politicians like former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl and former Gov. Pat Lucey, both of whom also served stints as chairmen of the state Dem Party.

“They left the battlefield and I haven’t,” Flynn said. “Of all the people I just named, many of them are gone, but I’m not gone and I’m going to revive that spirit.”

Flynn noted how the Democratic Party has changed over the last half century, saying that during the 1960s, the party was known for strong defense and prosperity, and then saw anti-war sentiment seep in during the ’70s and ’80s. Now, he said there’s a turn toward identity politics.

“I think there’s a strain of identity politics and victimology in our party, and I think that is something that has been bad for the party,” Flynn said. “And I’m a different kind of candidate, and I make that clear.”

With many of the top-tier candidates hailing from Dane County, Flynn, who lives in Milwaukee, said polling shows he’s strong in Milwaukee, Green Bay and rural areas, where he said he spends a lot of time.

“People like a no-nonsense candidate with a different kind of message than the Democratic Party’s had,” Flynn said.

While Flynn highlighted the ways he differs from others in the field, he said he doesn’t expect Dem-on-Dem attacks to take place during the primary, and said he wouldn’t launch attacks himself. He said he’d support any of the Dem candidates if they won the nomination.

“I’m here for one purpose,” Flynn said. “We’ve got to get Scott Walker out of there. If he reapportions until 2030, you’re not going to recognize this state.”

Flynn, a former partner with the Quarles & Brady law firm, has faced attacks over his defense of the Milwaukee Archdiocese from 1989-2004 during the priest sexual abuse scandal, with some activists calling for him to drop out of the race because of it.

At Tuesday’s luncheon, he faced questions over the issue from Sarah Pearson, state co-chair of Women’s March Wisconsin, and Peter Isely, a founding member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Among other things, Isely questioned Flynn about the transfer of 24 priests accused of abuse while Flynn represented the archdiocese. Isely repeatedly referred to documents he said showed Flynn was involved in the transfers.

Flynn denied he was involved in the transfers and said he knew about them only when lawsuits were brought. He said because of reforms he helped put in place, no transfers have happened since.

While Flynn addresses the issue in his stump speeches and set up a webpage defending his representation of the archdiocese, he became testy during the luncheon after repeated questions. He suggested those pressing him about the issue are engaging in McCarthy-like tactics.

“The business of saying, ‘I have a letter here or there’s an opinion there’ — and by the way, I don’t see it — reminds me of saying there are 57 communists in the State Department in West Virginia, and there’s no documents,” Flynn said. “So right, let’s see whatever documents you’ve got.”

Speaking with reporters afterward, Isley dismissed the notion that the groups’ pursuit of the issue is akin to McCarthyism.

“What McCarthy didn’t have, of course, was all the evidence,” Isely said. “It’s an insult to say that. It’s an insult to victims, and it’s a personal insult … That’s why victims don’t come forward.”

Pressed by reporters about his tone toward Isely, Flynn said he’s aggressive and enjoys “the give and take.”

“Did I tell him to jump in a lake?” he quipped, referencing an earlier comment about the groups seeking to have him quit the race. “No, I didn’t. So I’m improving a little bit.”

*Watch WisconsinEye video: http://www.wiseye.org/Video-Archive/Event-Detail/evhdid/12397

*To see interviews with other candidates and for more news and information on the governor’s race, visit our 2018 Gubernatorial Election Guide: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018-governors-race/


The news cycle never stops, which is why WisPolitics.com has introduced Midday.

You can get your news fix in under 2 minutes through this new podcast.

Check out WisPolitics Midday: http://wispolmidday.libsyn.com/

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Tuesday: The Millennial Action Project and WisPolitics.com host, “The Future of Work” with Rep. Stuck and U.S. Rep. Gallagher.
– 4 p.m.: Appleton Beer Factory, 603 W. College Ave., Appleton.

Thursday: RealClearPolitics event on Wisconsin’s economy.
– 11:30 a.m.: South Second, 838 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee.

(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 KELDA ROYS on her bid for governor, JOSH KAUL on his race for attorney general, and Milwaukee Alderman ASHANTI HAMILTON on the call for change after the release of body cam video of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown’s arrest.

*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 changes at the top of the Department of Corrections, the Foxconn flare-up and the Dem guv field.
*Watch the show: http://www.wiseye.org/Video-Archive/Event-Detail/evhdid/12390

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. Rep. GWEN MOORE on the tasing of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. Then, U.S. Rep. MARK POCAN gives an update on recent news from Washington. Dem guv candidate KELDA ROYS kicks off the show’s second series of candidate interviews. And multimedia reporter MARISA WOJCIK delves into the recent Supreme Court ruling involving Wisconsin tech company Epic.

“For the Record” airs at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on WISC-TV in Madison. Host NEIL HEINEN interviews retiring Overture Center President and CEO TED DeDEE.

“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 Democratic Senate Majority Leader CHUCK CHVALA and former Republican Assembly Speaker SCOTT JENSEN. This week, the two discuss House Speaker Paul Ryan’s political future.
*Watch the video or listen to the show: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/wisopinion-com-the-insiders-discuss-ryans-political-future/

Send items to staff@wispolitics.com

Upcoming WisPolitics.com/WisBusiness.com events in Appleton, D.C. and Madison include:

*A Tuesday WisPolitics.com and Millennial Action Project event in Appleton on “The Future of Work.” The event, which features Wisconsin Future Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Amanda Stuck, D-Appleton, and Congressional Future Caucus Vice-Chair U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, is slotted for 4 p.m. at the Appleton Beer Factory. The discussion will be moderated by Millennial Action Project founder STEVEN OLIKARA. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/180504FutureofWork.pdf

*A June 20 WisPolitics.com DC breakfast with JAMES HOHMANN, lead writer of the Washington Post’s “The Daily 202.” Check-in for the event starts at 8:30 a.m., with the program running from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Sponsors of the WisPolitics DC event series include: Michael Best / Michael Best Strategies, WPS Health Solutions, AARP Wisconsin and Xcel Energy. Register: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/june-20-wispolitics-com-luncheon-with-james-hohmann-of-the-washington-post/

*A June 28 WisPolitics.com Madison Club luncheon with AG BRAD SCHIMEL on his re-election bid. Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m., with the program running from noon to 1 p.m. Madison Club members and their guests receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons, $19 per person. Price for general public is $25 per person. This luncheon is sponsored by: Husch Blackwell, American Family Insurance, Xcel Energy, Walmart, AARP Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Hospital Association. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/june-28-wispolitics-com-luncheon-with-attorney-general-brad-schimel/

The long-awaited TOMMY THOMPSON book is due for September publication. A sneak peek to WisPolitics.com reveals a book full of stories, familiar names and good quotes — but few regrets from the state’s longest serving governor. The first of 10 “Tommy Tenets” is simply, “Love life and have fun.” But he admits the loss to TAMMY BALDWIN in the 2012 Senate race was a “crushing blow.” TOM LOFTUS, a friend from the Assembly days who lost to Thompson at the ballot box, writes on the book jacket that the contents comprise “a marvelous retelling of the American story.” “TOMMY: MY JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME” was written by Thompson and DOUG MOE, and published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

The Ethics Commission has unanimously voted to extend COLETTE REINKE’s appointment as interim administrator to Aug. 31, or until a permanent replacement is brought on. She was tapped in February to lead the agency after Senate Republicans rejected the appointment of BRIAN BELL to the post. Her original 90-day appointment was set to expire next week.

U.S. Sen. TAMMY BALDWIN was recently awarded the Maritime Leadership Award from the Shipbuilders Council of America. The award honored “outstanding dedication and support of the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry,” according to the release. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/shipbuilders-council-of-america-honors-u-s-sen-baldwin-with-the-maritime-leadership-award/

U.S. Rep. GWEN MOORE has a new press secretary: LIBBIE WILCOX. Meanwhile, former spokesman ERIC HARRIS started a job in California Dem U.S. Rep. JIMMY GOMEZ’s office last month. Wilcox has worked in the House as a spokeswoman since June 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile. Before that, she worked for a year at the National Journal in Washington, D.C.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. JAMES BERBEE as board chairman. Berbee is a clinical assistant professor at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and an emergency physician at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. Berbee and his wife, KAREN WALSH, also founded the BerbeeWalsh Foundation, which supports human health and welfare projects. He replaces PETER TONG, who served as chair since 2014 and continues as a WARF trustee. See the statement: https://www.warf.org/news-media/news/releases-and-announcements/warf-appoints-dr-james-berbee-board-chairman.cmsx

The Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service is holding its next “Beyond the Headlines” event June 13. The event, called “Building Trust: What is News & Whose Story is It?” will feature the following panelists: WAOW anchor MELISSA LANGBEHN; ROBERT MENTZER, of USA TODAY; and Everest Metro Police Department Chief CLAYTON SCHULZ. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/180522WIPPS.pdf

RealClearPolitics is hosting a Milwaukee luncheon Thursday on the state’s growing tech community and its economic impact. Among the speakers at the event are: U.S. Sen. RON JOHNSON; UW System President RAY CROSS; MATT CORDIO, of Skills Pipeline; KATHLEEN GALLAGHER, of the Milwaukee Institute; SUSAN KOEHN, of Milwaukee 7; MICHELLE SCHULER, of TechSpark Wisconsin; and DEBRA PTHEIR, of Autodesk. See more and RSVP: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/realclearpolitics-event-on-wisconsin-economy/

The ACLU of Wisconsin has brought on Milwaukee native SEAN WILSON as its Smart Justice statewide organizer. The campaign aims to decrease the number of people in Wisconsin’s prisons. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/aclu-wisconsin-hires-sean-wilson-as-smart-justice-statewide-organizer/

State Rep. JOAN BALLWEG has announced her 14th Annual Joan Ballweg Leadership Scholarship winners. They are: MORGAN KRUEGER, of Markesan High School; MORGAN DAMM, of Ripon High School; KEATON KLAUS, of Adams-Friendship High School; HANNAH WALTHER, of Princeton High School; and TANNER WEBER, of Markesan High School. See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/rep-ballweg-leadership-scholarship-winners/

Dem guv candidate KELDA ROYS has won a Lilly Award for Our Girls for her recent campaign video depicting her breastfeeding her daughter. Roys, who won the “Mom of the Year Award” for “helping reduce the stigma around motherhood and breastfeeding,” also had her campaign video recognized at an awards ceremony in New York City this week. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/roys-campaign-kelda-roys-wins-lilly-award-for-our-girls/

ENDORSEMENTS: The following is a list of recent endorsements made for statewide and congressional district elections, based on emails received by WisPolitics.com:

— Governor:


— State treasurer:

SARAH GODLEWSKI: Senate Minority Leader JENNIFER SHILLING; former Gov. TONY EARL; former Lt. Gov. BARBARA LAWTON; and former U.S. Rep. DAVE OBEY.

— Attorney General:


— U.S. Senate:


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)

Fourteen changes were made to the lobbying registry in the past 10 days.

Follow this link for the complete list:

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