FRI News Summary: JFC passes GOP K-12 ed plan; Kaul says he would defend Act 10 in court

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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.” By Johnson, WPR

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. By Vetterkind, WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL

Vos falsely claims Evers made troops wait for greeting
… Vos kicked off the Memorial Day weekend by falsely accusing Gov. Tony Evers of forcing troops to wait hours to greet him. … not true, according to the Wisconsin National Guard and those who attended the event at the 128th Air Refueling Wing at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. … [Vos on Thu.] responded to [Evers’] tweet … “Heard from one of the troops that you made those that landed first wait hours for the second plane after being gone almost a year so you could greet them all together and save you time,” Vos wrote. But … “Everything went well and on schedule,” said Rep. Ken Skowronski, a Republican from Franklin who attended the event. “Everything was great.” Skowronski said Friday he was not aware of Vos’ tweet and didn’t know what he meant by it. BY Marley, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL


– Pocan joins lawmakers calling for impeachment

– Paul Fanlund: ‘Political correctness’ is rampant … by Trump and the GOP

– Republican lawmakers advance $500M school spending plan, Democrats argue it doesn’t go far enough

– State budget to include $500M increase for schools, a third of what Evers wants

– Tony Evers, Republicans trade barbs over education funding plan

– Budget panel approves $500M more for Wisconsin schools [Bauer of AP]

– Rep. Jimmy Anderson wants AG Kaul to weigh in on his lame-duck session complaint … Anderson, who’s paralyzed from the chest down, is making the case that GOP lawmakers failed to give proper notice before scheduling a vote on the bills, causing him to miss the vote and deny his constituents their right to representation.

– GOP lawmaker displayed holstered gun to Democratic aide in area of Capitol where weapons are banned … 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.”

– 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.

– Alderman Terry Witkowski resigning, Barrett-ally stepping down. Witkowski’s aide, Scott Spiker, has filed to run for his seat. … “It is time for a summer off. I have worked since I was 12,” said Witkowski in a press release. The alderman will resign on May 30th. He said he was planning the announcement since September. “I have never known that a 74-year-old man deciding to retire was big news,” said Witkowski while standing before reporters from almost all of the local news networks.

– Witkowski to step down as alderman May 30 as his legislative aide files to run

– Anti-tax Milwaukee County supervisor reports owing $80,000 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.

– Bonds could lead to 24 new jobs

– Paid volunteer time for city of Green Bay staff faces backlash

– Schiek won’t prosecute alleged Rhinelander city council walking quorum

COURTS ^top^
– 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.”

– AG Kaul says he likely would defend Act 10 [in IUOE suit], controversial state law effectively stripped public employees of collectively bargaining rights

– Nation’s first opioid trial promises long odds, high drama … On the state’s side sat a small team of confident-looking young attorneys from Austin, Texas, alongside two senior Oklahoma City law partners for whom the battle against opioid drugmakers is personal. One lost a niece to an opioid overdose, and the other’s son, who had an opioid addiction, died in a motorcycle accident. Far outnumbering them, a flock of dark-suited corporate attorneys representing Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, some from Oklahoma and some from out of state, sat tensely across the room.

– Excessive drinking costs Wisconsin billions in lost productivity, employers often provide programs to help workers, but barriers may deter employees from seeking help

– MPS’ long-term future ‘precarious’ without painful cuts, infusion of revenue, Policy Forum says … “There’s only so much they can cut before outcomes are affected, both administratively and in student outcomes,” said Anne Chapman, lead researcher for the policy forum. “A big piece of this is their revenues. And a lot of that is driven by state policy,” she said. “There’s a big question here for state policymakers to consider. And if the state isn’t helpful, one lever in MPS’ hands …. is the referendum.”

– AG Josh Kaul beefs up environmental enforcement and consumer protection by merging two units

– [Arcadia] Landowners grant conservation easements for fishing

– Bruce Murphy: Foxconn plays politics for Trump? Both Trump and its CEO need Foxconn to look successful for the 2020

– Here’s how a Marshfield Clinic, Gundersen Health merger might affect Wisconsin’s rural health care

– Food stamp recipient previously convicted in overdose death allegedly sold laced heroin … Willie A. Liggins … remained in Racine County Jail Thursday afternoon pending formal charges.

– State: Man killed by [Ashland] police Wednesday was wanted by federal marshals

– 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.

– Dwight Watson selected as next UW-Whitewater chancellor

– WI National Guard soldiers return home from 10-month deployment in time for Memorial Day

– Archbishop [Listecki] leads Mass at Holy Rosary

– Madison Diocese gives St. Mary School reprieve to right its finances

– 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.

– Evers backs legislation regulating emerging contaminants known as ‘forever’ chemicals

– Higher smartphone use linked to lower mindfulness … More than 250 [UW-EC] students took the 99-question online survey during March, and the results were shared earlier this month at a collaborative research fair at the university.

– Every MLB stadium — ranked from worst to best … 5. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers): The highest-scoring stadium with a retractable roof, based on Google reviews, Milwaukee’s Miller Park offers plenty of spectacle for its loyal visitors. The average attendance numbers at Miller Park are outstanding every season, despite plenty of bad years that Brewers fans have had to sit through. Even when the team isn’t doing great, you can always get your kicks by watching the world-famous Sausage Race (pictured below) and seeing mascot Bernie Brewer take a ride down his twisty, yellow slide in the outfield after a home run. It’s about as fun as baseball gets.

– Union pushes higher wheel tax for transit, higher vehicle licensing fee pushed as county transit system considers 10% budget cut.

– CC/WI’s Jay Heck: Hagedorn shows why recusal rule needed, unprecedented speech by new Supreme Court Justice thanking Republicans for his victory shows obvious conflict.

– Pecatonica School supt. Jill Underly: It’s time for lawmakers to fulfill promises to support public schools

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