THU AM Update: Evers to kick off ‘Take Your Kids to Work Day’; Brooks dies at 76

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— Gov. Tony Evers is set to visit a Madison state office building this morning to kick off “Take Your Kids to Work Day.”

The event allows employees from six participating state agencies to bring their elementary and middle-school- aged kids to work to meet the guv and ask him questions about his job.

The participating agencies are: Financial Institutions, Transportation, Safety and Professional Services, Higher Education Aids Board, Public Service Commission and DOA’s Division of Hearings and Appeals.

— Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes have another stop planned tonight for their statewide budget listening tour.

Today’s event is scheduled for Milwaukee.

— Former state Rep. Ed Brooks passed away on Tuesday.

Brooks, 76, announced two years ago that he had been diagnosed with leukemia.

He was first elected to the Assembly in 2008. The Reedsburg dairy farmer last May announced he wouldn’t seek re-election to the chamber, citing his health.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday in Rock Springs.

See his obituary:


Today: luncheon with JFC co-chairs

Join for lunch at The Madison Club, 5 East Wilson St., Madison, on Thursday, April 25, with the veteran Republican co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, will discuss Gov. Tony Evers’ budget plan and GOP budget priorities.

See more on the co-chairs:

Check-in and lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program going from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. subscribers and members as well as Madison Club members and their guests receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $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.

To register, visit:


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Evers’ special ed proposal would pump $212M into schools in southeastern WI
… “It’s not possible. … We don’t have that kind of money,” said Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, longtime chairman of the Senate Education Committee who also sits on Joint Finance…. supports the per-pupil revenue cap increases and hopes to raise the special ed reimbursement rate to 30%. But he said the governor’s $1.4 billion increase for schools is a non-starter. … “unless you want to have a structural deficit or raise taxes, and we’re not going to do that.” … Democrats are pushing back … “They are turning their backs on their local school districts,” said [JFC] Sen. Jon Erpenbach … “We have enough money to pay for this,” he said. “They’re saying no because it’s Tony Evers and not Scott Walker.” … [LFB analysis, at Erpenbach’s request, found large, poor MPS] where about 20% of students are considered to have special needs — would be the biggest beneficiary, bringing in about $75.7M over the two years [Racine $19.4M, Kenosha $17.2M, Glendale-River Hills > $1M, Waukesha $10M]. … “This could be used to hire new teachers, reduce class sizes, to restore programs that have been cut. And they wouldn’t have to defer maintenance,” said [WASB’s] Rossmiller … [MPS Supt. Posley] would use the additional dollars to “attract and retain highly qualified teachers,” reduce class sizes to manageable levels and … “level the playing field for all of our scholars and staff.” [LFB also analyzed sparsity aid, revenue cap relief] … districts complain that they are constrained by revenue limits that cap how much they can raise through the local tax levy, forcing them to go to a referendum for capital improvements and, increasingly, operating costs.

Report: WI had 4th biggest drop in per-student spending for higher education
… Wisconsin’s per-student spending fell from $7,002 to $6,435 in [2013-18] period. The national average in 2018 was about $7,800 per student. … The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association reported earlier this month that just three states — Oklahoma, West Virginia and Mississippi — saw a larger drop … also names Wisconsin as one of just six states in which “total revenues” — meaning state money and tuition dollars — had returned to pre-recession 2008 levels. … “This is definitely a near-historic low,” [study author] Laderman said … didn’t include local money, such as property taxes. … Evers proposed about $150 million more for UW campuses in his 2019-21 budget proposal, about $43 million more than the UW System requested last August. … But Republicans who control the Legislature are writing their own budget instead of using Evers’ proposal as a template. Assembly Colleges chair Murphy expects funding in line with UW request, too soon to abandon the performance-based funding before measuring its efficacy. Senate Universities chair Kooyenga declined interview. UW-Madison’s McGlone, UW Systems’ Pitsch, WCAPE’s Radomski comment.

WI National Guard Sexual Assault, Harassment Policies To Undergo Federal Review
… in response to allegations of misconduct, Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin announced Wednesday. … Last month, Baldwin and Evers both called for the National Guard review. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, also called for an assessment earlier this year, after being contacted by a female guard member who said she was assaulted in 2014. … commander of the Wisconsin National Guard has defended its existing policies. Baldwin statement: “The men and women of the Wisconsin National Guard deserve an environment free of sexual harassment and assault, and I believe this impartial outside review of past actions, current protocols, and future improvements is the best way to meet that objective.” Evers-Baldwin statement said assessment will be conducted by the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations over the next several months, with special email address to send information, ending in public report with recommendations. WNG did not respond.

Wisconsin governor stands by Guard commander
… Evers tells The Associated Press that he’s not questioning Adj. Gen. Donald Dunbar’s leadership. He says the review is about ensuring Guard members feel safe and not about individual personnel.

Elections Commission Certifies Hagedorn’s Supreme Court Victory
Tally Shows Brian Hagedorn Beat Lisa Neubauer By 5,981 Votes [compared to unofficial margin of 5,962] … Neubauer had mulled a recount but ultimately decided against it and conceded defeat April 10. … [both] were vying to replace retiring liberal Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is battling cancer. Hagedorn will serve a 10-year term. [4-3] conservative majority will grow … to 5-2 when he takes the seat in August.

Walker’s aides and allies form new group that just appointed him to honorary post
… recently named the national honorary chairman of the Institute for Reforming Government, a [501c3 non-profit] policy shop said to be interested in trying to “simplify government at every level.” … founded and is operated by a collection of old Walker and GOP hands. … Kate Lind, Walker’s former campaign treasurer, is the registered agent who filed the paperwork creating the institute … a client of Platform Communications … founded and headed by Keith Gilkes … Brian Reisinger … vice president at Platform. … lists Platform’s Madison address as its headquarters. The board has more Walker allies [Gralton, Villa, Bill Johnson, McCallum]. … Rob McDonald, chairman of the institute, said his nonprofit is hiding nothing. … The institute has yet to file federal tax forms listing its donors and documenting its spending. Those should be filed soon. Rehash Walker’s 4 other gigs, being disinvited from 5th CD shindig, weighing run for Johnson’s Senate seat. DPW’s Beyer: “”That Walker had to resort to a ‘leadership’ role in a hollow group fabricated by his friends shows just how desperate he is to retain relevance after Wisconsin voters made their thoughts on him clear last November.”

7 Trends That Explain The Contours Of Wisconsin’s Deepening Dairy Crisis
… [7 charts with analysis] … Milk Prices Paid to Wisconsin Dairy Farmers, 1913-2018 … 2014’s high prices obscured a consequential long-term trend: since the early 1980s, inflation has far outpaced milk prices. … U.S. Dairy Exports vs. All Milk Prices, 1967-2018 … about 2005. …[US milk] prices … began aligning with … world’s top dairy exporters … Since then, American milk prices have risen and fallen with international demand … which also hit record highs in 2014 before dropping off 30 percent the following year. … U.S. Cheese in Cold Storage, 2014-2018 … cheese surplus has grown year by year to record high levels since demand for exports started falling in 2015. … [without demand boost] milk prices would likely continue to decline until the surplus is cleared. … Return on Assets by Herd Size, 2014-2017 Average … unrelentingly low milk prices are hitting … somewhat unevenly. [UW prof.] Bernhardt … found that profitability improved with increasing herd size … noted the top-performing farms of all sizes have maintained healthy profits. … Number of Cows vs. Total Milk Production in Wisconsin, 1933-2018 [genetics and technology have increased production as working cows decrease, complicated by rise in CAFOs] … Age Distribution of Wisconsin Farmers, 1978-2012 [avg. farmer age rising from 48.6 years in 1978 to 56.5 years in 2012] … Loss of Dairy Herds in Wisconsin, 2017-2019 … Over two-thirds of Wisconsin’s counties have lost at least 8% of their total dairy herds between 2017 and early 2019. The county with the greatest losses is Eau Claire at over 25%. UW’s Stephenson, UW-Extension’s Hagedorn comment.

DNR secretary: Climate change an environmental justice issue
… The four-day National Adaptation Forum, which began Tuesday at Monona Terrace, gathers members of the climate change adaptation community to share expertise and guidance on how to anticipate and prepare for the potential impacts of climate change. Sec. Cole spoke Tuesday: “We can begin to have that conversation once again about climate change being the real deal. … Climate change is also an environmental justice issue. Everyone is affected by climate change at some point in their lives, but communities of color, low income communities are often the hardest hit.” Exec. Parisi touted solar farm, landfill CNG, crop incentives to reduce runoff, “It’s on us in local government to protect our communities, to mitigate where possible and to work at full speeds to reduce our community’s carbon emissions before it’s too late.” Mayor Rhodes-Conway: “Adaptation is critical to the city of Madison. … Tackling the issue of climate change is a top priority of my administration,” agreed with Cole that communities of color and low-income communities are “hit first and worst” by climate change.

WI Is Losing Workers. Can Immigrants Help?
… Over the last decade in Wisconsin, 97 percent of counties lost populations of working-age people between 25 and 54 years old. … And although two counties — Dane and Eau Claire — bucked the trend with up to 10 percent of growth over that same time period, most of the state’s counties share concerns with those in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and others about how to brace for the consequences of losing prime workers. … [EIG-Moody’s Analytics study proposes] so-called heartland visas as a way to help struggling communities stave off economic downturns. … [EIG’s] Lettieri said that rather than tying an immigrant to a single employer, the [voluntary] Heartland Visa would give them access to a place, whether that’s a county or a few counties where they would be eligible to work and move around. … “Maybe not every community opts in, but the ones that want to, there’s a really strong rationale and there’s a really strong track record of this working in communities around the country,” he said.

WI Lawmaker: State’s share of lottery money should go to roads
… Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) said the Wisconsin man claiming the $768.4 million Powerball prize Tuesday means the state collects $36.5 million in income taxes. … using this money for local road improvements would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “It’s one of the top issues I hear from constituents the most the shabby condition of many of our local roads,” Carpenter said. Bill draft soon.


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– 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Luncheon with JFC Co-Chairs Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.

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