Recent School Referenda Pass; Voters Show Strong Support for Local Schools

November 26, 2014
Recent School Referenda Pass; Voters Show Strong Support for Local Schools
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“I voted for the referendum,” the Mondovi woman told me. “I don’t have kids. I know it’s going to raise my property taxes. I don’t want to pay more, but I think we need to keep good schools.”
All across Wisconsin voters chose to raise property taxes in support of their schools by passing school referenda.
Ten years ago only 24% of school referenda passed. This year 68% passed. No year in the past 20 comes close to that percentage except 2012.
Following the 2011 historic cuts in state school aid, Wisconsin voters passed 53 of 77 school referenda in 2012. This year, voters faced 120 referenda and passed 82.
Why did voters across the state vote to raise their own property taxes?
Voters believe in the importance of strong local schools.

MAILING IT IN: Senator RoJo and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Post Office

Grumpy cat notices the GOP's scheme to kill the postal service

Once upon a time, a group of Very Serious Republicans decided that government wasn't the solution, it was the problem. No government program, no matter how successful, virtuous or necessary to the functioning of an actual democracy, could possibly be as efficient or profitable as a private-sector version. That was an article of blind faith among the GOP ideologues, just like it was gospel that cutting taxes would increase tax revenue. Brilliant!

And so the Very Serious Republicans went on a decades-long campaign to privatize almost all of government. Private roads? Yup. Private health care? No exceptions. Retirement programs? Hand 'em over! Military and police? Incorporate! But Much More Serious Democrats fought this campaign, pointing out that, except for certain situations where special expertise required outsourcing the public's work, for-profit companies with narrow agendas were unlikely to provide vital public services at lower cost than the not-for-profit government.

Audit Reminds Us: Retirement Funds Bear Careful Watching

November 19, 2014


Audit Reminds Us: Retirement Funds Bear Careful Watching


Senator Kathleen Vinehout


“What’s going on with the state retirement system?” the retired woman asked me. She’d started a business but needed retirement income to keep things going. “Wisconsin’s system is the best funded in the country,” I told her. “But we’ve got to carefully watch what happens there.”

More than one out of ten Wisconsinites participates in the Wisconsin’s Retirement System (WRS) either as a current or former state or local government employee. Countless more family members depend on a well-run system to keep their aging relatives out of poverty.

As reported by the La Crosse Tribune in June of 2012, “Wisconsin is the only state in the nation to receive high marks for its public employee pension system.” The article commented on work of the Pew Center for States. Over the years Pew has released several reports analyzing states’ obligation to their employees. Many states have a large funding gap but not Wisconsin.

A call for civility in comments

I've noticed that since the election the comments on this site have become decidedly less civil.  I would suggest a few things:


1.  Please push yourself back from the keyboard, take a break, pet the doggie, kiss your spouse, or do whatever it takes to calm down a little.

2.  People  who are clearly trolling for a reaction really want you to react irrationally.  Try not to do that, but go back to #1 before responding.

3.  People who are consistently un-civil or crude WILL be banned from commenting here.

4. Sore losers and sore winners are both irritating.

5. In an attempt to calm this down, all comments that do not have a known identity will be put into moderation and we will decide whether to allow the posts or not. This means that if you do not log in to Disqus with an identity with a known email address, your comment will automatically be moderated. I hate doing that, but the general tone here is no longer respectful. If you want to post immediately be sure you have registered in Disqus, Facebook, or one of the other services supported.  Anonymous posts and posts with fictitious email addresses will all be moderated.

Walker Appointees on PSC Wait Until After Election to Nearly Double Electric & Natural Gas Fees

In an election where Governor Walker's central theme was that a vote for Mary Burke would be a vote for higher fees and taxes, literally the first action taken by his appointees following the election was to approve a plan that allows Wisconsin's electric utilities to nearly double the service fees they charge their customers. 

By a 2-1 vote, only two days after the election, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission began a series of approvals that are letting every one of Wisconsin's electric and natural gas companies nearly double the service fees they charge their customers.  Humorously, it was the two Walker appointees that supported the massive fee hikes and the only vote in opposition has been a commissioner appointed by former Democratic Governor, Jim Doyle.

List of People Walker Wants to Pee in a Cup Includes Veterans Returning from War

You just spent the last four years serving your country in the Afghanistan war zone and finally you get to come back home to Wisconsin.  Like most veterans, you don't have a job lined up and you apply for unemployment.  Under Governor Scott Walker's proposed plan for unemployment beneficiaries, however, you will first have to pee in cup and prove that you are not guilty of taking illicit drugs.  

Ironically, even though Walker has been warned repeatedly that suspicionless drug testing for government programs has always been thrown out by the courts for being grossly unconstitutional, it will likely take months before the courts are able to shut down Walker's publicity stunt and in the interim one of the groups that will be hit hardest are newly unemployed veterans whose primary mission was to "support and defend the Constitution." This is nothing but class warfare being waged on those just returning home from warfare.

The cost of doing business with Boss Vos

If Democratic politicians told Assembly Speaker Robin Vos that because of his political affiliation his business would not qualify for tax credits or any other state aid, Vos would be outraged. However when Boss Vos publicly shakes down a business owner, it is just the cost of doing business in Wisconsin.

After four separate election cycles in four years centering mainly on economic development and job growth, Wisconsin voters have heard a lot of lofty rhetoric about making Wisconsin “Open for Business” and continuing the Wisconsin “comeback.” With discussion of a new arena in downtown Milwaukee, the state has a unique and prominent role to play in the proposal. However, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has made clear that his only criteria for any state aid to any business is their political support.

Following the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks  to Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, the National Basketball Association included as a condition of sale that a new arena be constructed to house the team. If a new arena was not constructed the league could buy back the team, potentially resulting in Milwaukee losing the Bucks as our professional basketball franchise.

Socratic RoJo on Money in Politics: "Are We Spending too Much Money on Halloween Candy?"

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson recently appeared on the Devil's Advocates radio program and was asked if he thought there was too much money in politics.  His passionate response was no:  

"We spent 2.2 billion buying Halloween candy last month, we'll spend about a billion dollars on these Senate races so put it all in perspective.  Are we spending too much money on Halloween candy?   Are we spending too much money on free speech so we can have a vibrant political process?  I don't think so."

I have to admit that Johnson makes a very valid point-- we do indeed spend a lot of money on Halloween candy and that large amount of money is indeed about double of the large amount of money every one is concerned about... which brings us to the fact that we spend 56 billion a year on our pets-- that means we care 56 times as much on our pets as we do about who we elect to the Senate!   

Oh and its gets worse:  Americans spend even more -- 96 billion-- on beer!  That's an even larger number to compare to the number that we thought was a large number!

RoJo Stands By His Man: Fighting to Keep Mitch McConnell as GOP's Senate Leader

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell once famously said that the "single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."  After Obama was re-elected, McConnnell doubled-down, doing everything in his power as Senate Minority Leader to undermine the President.

Because of this unpatriotic attitude of putting party and power before the best interests of the country, McConnell is widely regarded as the most unpopular politician in America.

But, that doesn't matter to Wisconsin's U.S. Senator, Ron Johnson.  No, he's fighting to keep McConnell as the GOP's leader in the Senate: 

While fellow Republican Senator Ted Cruz has refused to say whether he'd back McConnell as majority leader, Johnson will recommend to the caucus that the entire slate of party leaders be re-installed. "Based on the results of this election, let's try to not only find common ground with the other side but within our own party," he said. "This is a time to provide unity, and a leadership battle would not be good."

Somewhere, Tammy Wynette is smiling.

Deer Hunters Ask “What About that Private/Public Thing?”

“What happens if I have a public permit because I’m not rich enough to afford a private one?” the deer hunter asked me. “I shoot a deer and it runs across the road. There’s my deer. It’s not dead. But I don’t have a private permit to go get it.”
“It just seems to me that the new rules are set up to force people to lease hunting land because there are more permits on private land than public land.”
Deer hunters taking to the woods in Wisconsin are facing a slew of new hunting rules. Hunters will experience the long-talked-about rules of the Texan ‘Deer Czar’ James Kroll.
In the DNR’s words, the new rules change the “season framework, management units and antlerless deer hunting permits”. DNR press releases tout their “robust public outreach” and the “Deer Trustee Report” guiding this year’s changes.
Gone are “management zones” setting deer overwinter population goals. Gone are free tags & $2 tags in highly populated or CWD areas; gone are landowner deer tags. Soon-to-be gone is registering your deer at the local bar or convenience store.
Deer management units – usually set by natural boundaries and major highways – are replaced by county borders and four major ‘management zones”.


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