WED AM Update: Assembly Republicans to talk education budget; DOJ reports on school safety funding

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— Assembly Republicans set a news conference today on the education budget in advance of the Joint Finance Committee’s plan to take up K-12 finding tomorrow.

The Assembly GOP caucus met on the topic yesterday as Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said one option on the table is to increase funding by $200 per student in each year of the budget.

— The $3.5 million remaining of the money allocated to the Office of School Safety will be used for crisis response in districts lacking the needed resources to respond to such an incident, DOJ says.

That money has already been put to use in the Barron School District following the disappearance of Jayme Closs and the murder of her parents. That included gathering school psychologists, crisis response experts and therapy dogs. The teen escaped after being held for 88 days by the man who killed her parents.

The DOJ report to the Joint Finance Committee provided an update on the Office of School Safety, which was created last session. A significant piece of the legislation was handing out grants from a pot of $100 million.

The also law included a requirement that every district provide the state a safety plan, blueprints of buildings and other information.

Currently, 71 percent of districts have provided blueprints; 63 percent the required safety assessments; and 74 percent the safety plans. Meanwhile, 61 percent have submitted information on school safety planning and 71 percent on school violence drills.

Read the full report:

— Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke is knocking Gov. Tony Evers for pledging to veto four abortion bills, including the “born alive” legislation the Kaukauna Republican co-authored.

Evers has said he opposed the “born alive” bill. Yesterday, he tweeted a vow to veto that legislation and the other three abortion bills the Assembly approved last week. The others include banning abortions on the basis of a fetus’ race, gender and other qualifiers; requiring physicians to tell women considering taking an abortion-inducing drug the process could be reversed; and barring Planned Parenthood from receiving money under the Medical Assistance program.

The Senate plans to take up the bills in June, and Evers tweeted, “We shouldn’t be limiting the right for women to make their own healthcare decisions.”

Steineke fired back Evers and his staff were accusing GOP leaders of sexism while promising to veto a bill that would “prevent unborn girls from being aborted because of their gender.”

“It’s hypocrisy at its finest, and rings opposite of empowering women and girls,” Steineke said.

— The state Supreme Court is asking the parties in one of two lame-duck lawsuits to weigh in over the next two weeks as it considers how to proceed in the case.

The court heard oral arguments last week in a case involving a Dane County ruling that lawmakers improperly met in extraordinary session, voiding all of their actions.

This suit deals with a separation of powers argument over some of the actions approved in the session. A different Dane County judge overturned those actions, and the case is now on appeal.

The court set a May 31 for filings as it considers how to proceed on the appeal with responses to those filings due by June 5.

Read the court order:

— The Department of Employee Trust Funds says a survey of participants in the state’s group health insurance program found some are having issues managing out-of-pocket costs and need help navigating benefits and expenses.

The survey found participants were: overestimating the costs of services; had confusion about deductibles and out-of-pocket costs; and needed more information on how high deductible plans work, among other things.

The agency partnered with the UW-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs for the survey, which was sent to participants in March.

Read the findings:


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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Evers vows to veto slate of contentious abortion-related legislation

… “We shouldn’t be limiting the right for women to make their own health care decisions,” Evers wrote on Twitter. “That’s why I’ll veto the bills passed by the Assembly last week if they arrive on my desk. It’s time to listen to women.” … Evers’ announcement, which comes as no surprise, means the package of bills has no chance of becoming law because Republicans lack a two-thirds majority to override a veto. … [Sponsor Steineke] said Evers’ position makes clear “he’s for abortion at any time for any reason.” Dems argue abortion survival is extremely rare, WRToL notes such hasn’t been reported since 1982, DHS doesn’t track such data, GOP argue protection needed if 20-week ban is overturned. Pastor Reiff in opening prayer at RPW convention: “Heavenly father, you know that when Wisconsin Republicans had the majority under Gov. Walker, they did nothing to safeguard the rights of the preborn. Now, however, when we have a Democrat governor, these same Republicans piously claim that they’re against abortion, all the while knowing that any abortion bill they bring to the governor’s desk will be vetoed. Dear heavenly father, forgive our Republican legislators for their hypocrisy.” Vos later professed “profound” pride in GOP abortion record, noting Walker signed 20-week ban.

Budget Committee Approves Raises For Prison Guards, State Workers

… [JFC GOP plan] would increase state funding by $36.8 million in the next budget, which is about $13 million more than Gov. Tony Evers proposed. … starting salary for corrections officers would go from $16.65 per hour to $19.03 per hour. … aimed at filling the large number of vacancies in Wisconsin prisons, which have driven up overtime costs and compounded staffing challenges at [overcrowded] institutions … vacancy rate for all Wisconsin correctional institutions hit nearly 15 percent in April of 2019 … much higher in some prisons [32% in Waupun] … Evers administration had already approved $5-per-hour raises at a handful of institutions like Waupun where the vacancy rates were highest. The GOP motion would withhold extra funding from those facilities in the first year of the upcoming budget. Rep. Goyke blamed Walker/GOP for “growing and festering problem that has gone unsolved by the majority party.” JFC also funded a pair of 2% raises for all state workers, pending JCOER approval. GOP rejected Evers’ $8M on market wage and parity adjustments.

WI budget committee passes Corrections funding plan, puts off barracks proposal

… But the plan, which passed on an 11-4 party-line vote … would make available $122 million in general purpose revenue and program revenue over the biennium for overtime funding costs, about $7.3 million less than what Evers wanted. … didn’t address some of Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals, including his request to use $15 million in borrowing for three different barracks units [Taycheedah, JCI] … includes an expansion of Chippewa County’s Stanley Correctional Institution Health Services Unit … [to] provide health, dental and psychological services. Co-chair Nygren said rejected items may return in capital budget, said JFC will meet Thu. on K-12, voting Tuesday, no word on next Thu., “We’ll go one day at a time.”

GOP leader: State Senate eyeing $200-per-pupil increase in each of next two years

… would mirror the centerpiece of [Walker’s most recent] school-funding increase … which translated to about a half-billion increase in state aid to districts. Evers’ $611M plan boost basic per-pupil rate but rejiggered formula to add more for poorer districts. Vos plans to announce GOP plan today, as GOP leaders set to meet with Evers. Zimmerman for Fitzgerald said Senate GOP need to discuss details before announcing. Fitzgerald’s office did not respond to inquiries about other K-12 hikes, like special ed. Fitzgerald said Evers communications is worse than Doyle’s, who at least had DOA Sec. Marotta deeply involved, “That dialogue was happening (under Doyle) and it just doesn’t feel like it’s happening at all right now.” Vos has said he expects to talk budget directly with Evers. JFC Sens. Tiffany expects K-12 hike similar to Walker’s $639M, LeMahieu doubts state can afford it.

UW President Says Budget Process Increasing Competition Between Schools

… During a visit to UW-La Crosse on Tuesday … to tour Cowley Hall, one of the buildings that has been proposed to be replaced in the next biennial budget. … Cross said he’s not sure how much of the funding the UW System will receive. “I think it’s going to be considerably less than what the governor put on the table. But it could be more than we thought it could be. So we don’t know yet. … Does that prompt more competition between campuses? To some extent it does, I’m not disputing that, but I’m not suggesting that’s not healthy either,” Cross said.

Mark Pocan calls for impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump

… But in a statement issued Tuesday, Pocan said Trump’s unwillingness to comply with congressional subpoenas and other attempts at oversight have changed his view. … “Stonewalling Congress on witnesses and the unredacted Mueller report only enhances the President’s appearance of guilt, and as a result, he has pushed Congress to a point where we must start an impeachment inquiry,” Pocan said. … puts him at odds with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who reportedly is rejecting calls. Pocan joins Milwaukee colleague Moore, who was an early caller for impeachment.

Milwaukee streetcar expansion not running quite on time after aldermen raise questions

… Aldermen expressed frustration at the quickness of the process and criticized the planning. … “I think we can do a better proposal than what is before us,” Ald. Russell Stamper II said in proposing the hold. … wants equal and equitable investment for the central city. … Barrett wants to direct $46.8 million in tax incremental financing to the construction of an extension to Wisconsin Avenue ahead of next summer’s Democratic National Convention and to preliminary engineering of extensions linking Bronzeville to the north of downtown and Walker’s Point to the south. … City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux … said it was by “sheer luck of geography” that it was less of a challenge to go north than south [more TIFs in north to defray cost]. JCP Construction’s Phelps argued extension will help small businesses.

State Regulator Says Wisconsin Data Breach Laws Lagging Other States

DATCP Plans Taskforce Aimed At Updating Data Breach Legislation Passed In 2006 … [LRB] says research shows that within the next 24 months, the probability of a significant breach at any given business or nonprofit organization is around 30 percent. In 2017 … notes there were 1,579 data breaches that exposed nearly 179 million personal records. … Digital Guardian … ranked Wisconsin’s laws as “less strict” than other states. Only Kentucky and Mississippi had a lower ranking. … “There’s no requirement that they even tell the attorney general or the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection that a breach occurred,” said [DATCP admin.] Sutherland. “So, it’s a law that has some prescriptions but very little teeth, which makes it hard to actually be effective.” … No timeline was provided [on task force action] but she said the agency plans to begin engaging with stakeholders soon.


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– 8:15 a.m.: Natural Resources Board. Members are to take testimony on proposed rules affecting chapter NR 812 related to well construction and pump installation, hear a report on the 2019 Wisconsin Conservation Congress and receive an update on CWD.

– 12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Madison Rotary Club. Guest speaker is Wisconsin Historical Society Director Christian Overland, who is to discuss plans for a new Wisconsin History Museum. Rotary meetings are open to members, invited guests and media.

– 1 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Medicaid Reform and Oversight public hearing on AB 162, relating to participation in the Volunteer Health Care Provider program by agencies serving homeless individuals; and AB 192, relating to mental health clinical consultations under the Medical Assistance program.

– 1 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Local Government executive session on AB 159, relating to the operation of electric scooters on highways; AB 141, relating to due dates for paying property taxes; and other bills.

– 1:05 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Local Government public hearing on AB 184, relating to local reporting requirements related to general transportation aids; and AB 170, relating to the method for providing notice of a special meeting of a school board.

– 2:30 p.m.: Senate Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations public hearing on Clearinghouse Rule 17-073, relating to food processing plants.

– 2:35 p.m.: Senate Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations executive session on SB 133, relating to violations of the law relating to the practice of massage therapy or bodywork therapy, and other bills.

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