FRI AM Update: Evers, Nygren talk education in radio addresses

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— Gov. Tony Evers used this week’s Dem radio address to rally support for his plan to boost public school spending by $1.4 billion and special education funding by $600 million.

The former Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction detailed his background in the Wisconsin Public School system, stating “it’s no secret: education is in my DNA.”

“I can confidently say that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state,” Evers added.

Evers’ touted his budget listening tour, which he and Lt. Gov. Barnes wrapped up around the state a few weeks ago. Evers emphasized the importance of public schools to local community members, noting the responsibility of the state to ensure that “kids who need an extra lift can get that extra lift.”

“It’s time to recommit to investing in our kids, our educators, and in (K-12) education across our state, because every kid deserves a high-quality, public education — from early childhood to our universities and technical colleges system — regardless of their ZIP code,” Evers said in closing.

See release:

— Rep. John Nygren touted the Joint Finance Committee’s actions on K-12 education in this week’s GOP radio address, saying Republicans provided increased funding.

According to the JFC co-chair, this year’s budget will include more resources for the classroom and increased educational opportunities for students.

Nygren, R-Marinette, said the educational funding is intended to enhance Republican efforts to increase worker training.

“Republicans in the Legislature are helping prepare the workforce of tomorrow for the jobs of the future,” Nygren said.

See the release:

— Evers will today meet with representatives from the Department of Transportation and tour a construction zone in Waukesha.

— Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, meanwhile, will deliver a commencement speech to graduates from Milwaukee’s Marshall High School, his alma mater.


June 13: luncheon: The future of transportation funding in Wisconsin

Transportation funding has become one of the key debating points in the two-year state budget making its way through the Legislature. Gov. Tony Evers proposed an 8-cent-a gallon increase in the gas tax plus while getting rid of the minimum markup on gasoline — something the administration said would more than wipe out the increase. Republicans have removed the minimum markup provision and left in the gas tax increase for now. Where will the debate lead and will it result in a long-term solution?

Hear details from some of the key players in the debate at a issues luncheon set for Thursday, June 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UW-Milwaukee’s Waukesha campus just off I-94.

Panelists for the discussion: Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee. subscribers and members receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $20 per person, including lunch. Price for the general public is $25 per person, including lunch.

This event is sponsored by: Kapur & Associates, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training, ELEVEN25 at Pabst, Milwaukee Police Association, The Firm Consulting, Medical College of Wisconsin and Spectrum.

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is an event partner.

For more information and registration, visit:


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JFC [on 11-4 party line] Passes $500M GOP School Funding Plan

… includes a $97 million increase in special education [Evers proposed $606M]. JFC co-chair Nygren dubbed Evers $1.4B K-12 plan “more of a campaign document than actually a real budget. I think even education leaders throughout the state had questioned whether it was realistic.” Sen. Olsen noted GOP plan boosts special ed reimbursement to 30%, which Evers supported in previous budgets, “So we’re meeting those goals that he had back when he was state superintendent.” Schools are required by law to fully fund special ed, so they must raise whatever state does not pay. Recent WPF found $1B funding gap. Rep. Taylor: “They made a choice to preserve $1.1 billion in tax cuts for the most wealthy elite in our state rather than fund what our schools need.” Rep. Goyke: “[People] want the investment. It was quite clear the choice between Tony Evers and Scott Walker.” WPEN’s DuBois Bourenane: “Please call on Gov. Evers to veto a budget that does not meet the needs of our students if that’s what they deliver him.” Evers tweet did not threaten veto, said GOP plan “doesn’t get us where we need to be … I remain hopeful that I can continue to work with Republicans … There’s still a long way to go in the budget process, but we’re not going to negotiate against ourselves or our kids.” GOP plan still matches Evers per-pupil hikes of $200/$204. Olsen said a veto wouldn’t get a better deal, “And if it did, it would be so marginal that it wouldn’t be worth it.”

After a social media uproar, Sen. Chris Kapenga says ‘full inclusion’ of special education students is not working

…at May 22 SRO town hall in Delafield, attempted to clarify comments [allegedly stemming from WASB meeting] attributed to him about special ed students that caused social media uproar — but some remained frustrated. Kapenga said attributions twisted his comments into something “absolutely horrible,” clarified he all students’ needs must be respected when facing any habitual classroom disruptor, said the “far left spectrum of full inclusion” is not working, which drew chuckles of disbelief from some, “So let’s start talking about solutions — and I’m open to doing that — but not if people are going to twist my words into something that’s not.” Parent of special ed student Flaschberger blamed classroom problems on chronic underfunding by state, “To not fund special education at a higher rate is going to continue … You’re going to continue to hear the same stories. … Just because they were born with a disability doesn’t mean he doesn’t have that same right. There are lots of things that we could be doing, including increasing the funding so that kids can get what they need.” Another special ed parent, Deb Balderas: “Our kids need to be in schools because it’s not just our kids that are learning. It’s everybody else that learns from them.” H-LSB members Wisniewski and Harter encouraged Kapenga to visit a special ed classroom before the end of the school year, but Kapenga cited busy schedule and offered to visit before next SY began. Kapenga declined to further clarify his position on mainstreaming and ended meeting because it overran scheduled 60 mins.

Republicans, Democrats Introduce Bills Addressing Fire Foam Use

… Five Democrats [including Sens. Hansen and Miller, Rep. Taylor] unveiled the bill at a news conference Thursday morning in Green Bay flanked by Gov. Tony Evers and DNR Secretary Preston Cole. … would require the DNR to establish acceptable levels of polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which are found in fire-fighting foam. The measure also calls for the DNR to set up monitoring requirements for PFAS and set criteria for certifying laboratories to test for PFAS. “It’s one of the most comprehensive PFAS bills in the nation and it relies on science. It would once again make Wisconsin an environmental leader when it comes to PFAS,” Evers said. The chemicals have been found in private wells in the town of Peshtigo, Marinette and Porterfield, ostensibly coming from Tyco Fire Products training facility. PFAS also found in municipal wells in the city of Madison. Rep. Nygren-Sen. Cowles bill would allow the use of foam containing PFAS only in emergency fire-fighting or fire prevention operations. Testing facilities could use the foam only if they have DNR-made containment measures. Cowles, Nygren comment.

Kaul says he’s likely to defend Act 10 in court

… “In any case, what we do is we assess to make sure that there was a defensible basis for statute, but I fully anticipate in that case that we will be defending state law,” Kaul said. … [rehash IUOE resurrected suit] … “We cannot sit idly by and allow our attorney general or governor an opportunity to undermine Act 10, and will seek to intervene in this case accordingly to make sure that the law is upheld,” Fitzgerald said in a statement Monday. [GOP intervention permitted for lame-duck lawsuit, denied for abortion ban suit] … Kaul pushed back against such allegations that he won’t defend state law. … said his DOJ will work to defend state law when there is a legally defensible basis.

Dane County Judge Karofsky Enters Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Karofsky Running For Justice Dan Kelly’s Seat … [Kelly] has indicated that he plans to run but hasn’t made an official announcement. … [MU Law prof.] Fallone is also running. … Karofsky won election … in 2017. … endorsed by former Democratic Govs. Jim Doyle and Tony Earl … Karofsky said the country is on the wrong track with the judiciary being “increasingly politicized and the rule of law being ignored for partisan political reasons.”

New Chancellor Named At UW-Whitewater

Dr. Dwight Watson Of Southwestern Minnesota State University Will Join Campus In August … He and interim chancellor Cheryl Green were the two remaining finalists for the position after two others dropped out. Watson: “I want to hit the road listening, learning from Whitewater what do they view as their opportunities, their challenges and those types of things. I want to sort of find out and look at more about their context and talk about how we can attract students that are not a traditional part of the Whitewater profile and have those conversations.” UW Systems pres. Cross: “As a faculty member, he brings to us demonstrated skills and leadership and in leadership style he’s a very strong relationship builder. … His approach to marketing strategies, etc., for the Whitewater campus included the community.” Regent Klein, search committee prof. compass comment.

UW-W chancellor named through process that left faculty ‘ignored,’ letter says

… How the process played out at UW-Whitewater could be a harbinger of chancellor searches to come at other UW campuses. … Cross named Cheryl Green as interim chancellor that month through “consultation” with the campus community that faculty members say did not happen. … reversed course in a March letter, deciding that she [Green] should be allowed to apply, after consulting with a “diverse group of stakeholders.” The Faculty Senate’s letter said they were not consulted in that decision either. … No minutes from meetings when the search committee met were made available to faculty members despite three requests made over a two-month period, according to the Faculty Senate’s letter. And [ex-Regent Milner] remained on the committee even after her term expired. “The perception that UW System President Ray Cross is ‘making up rules as he goes’ elevates concerns that the selection of UW-Whitewater’s next chancellor is actually in the hands of one or two people and not the broader body of UW-Whitewater students, staff, faculty, alumni and local community members,” the letter said. … none of the candidates had the faculty’s full confidence. … UW-Whitewater geography professor Eric Compas, who served as vice chairman of the search committee, said Watson “is a great fit for our campus.” Review “streamlined” search committee improvisation under intervening campus consolidation. UW’s Pitsch did not explain why Milner continued on search panel despite law requiring a Regent or whether such a thing has happened in prior searches.

GOP lawmaker displayed holstered gun to Dem aide in prohibited area of Capitol

… In late February or early March, [GOP Rep.] Sortwell entered Stubbs’ office to talk to her aide, Savion Castro, about legislation to make it easier for barbers to get professional licenses, according to Castro [who was the only other person in the office]. … After talking about the bill, Sortwell told Castro he thought Stubbs’ sign barring guns from her office was silly, Castro said. … [touted 2nd Amendment] pulled back his sport coat to show the handgun on his hip … Castro soon after asked Sortwell to leave and he did. Leaders were notified and dispatched Chief Clerk Fuller to talk to Sortwell. Sortwell repeatedly declined to give his version of events, “You take whatever story he wants to put out there that may or may not be true and you go with it,” he told a reporter, did not respond to further contacts. Stubbs: “He should apologize to my staffer and he should take on accountability for his behavior.”

Anti-tax Milwaukee County supervisor reports owing $80K in taxes as he pumped [personal] money into [his election] campaigns

… ran a total of four times as the GOP nominee against U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore between 2008 and 2014. … shifted his focus and won a seat on the County Board in 2016 and was re-elected without opposition last year. [during this period, he lost his construction job, went homeless, joined Navy, in 1993, opened his own auto repair shop, while] being hit with 10 tax warrants for unpaid sales taxes over the past two decades. … [now] makes a little more than $24,000 a year as a supervisor. … “I think I’m overtaxed,” Sebring said. “It’s not that I’m trying to evade the taxes. They are being paid. But I was in a situation, and I had to use the tools that I had to resolve that situation. And the situation is being resolved.” … [campaign finance details] … Sebring also had no apologies for taking freebies as a supervisor, something unusual among County Board members. … [but] “I’m not running for re-election,” Sebring vowed.


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