New bills circulating to re-fund schools - they could use your support

A note from our friends at Blue Cheddar - there are new bills circulating to restore funding cuts for our schools. The Wisconsin Public Education Network would like you to support them by calling your legislators. The bills are LRB-2356 and LRB-2357 and you'll need to call  your legislators before Friday.

Two education bills are circulating for co-sponsorship that deserve support from every legislator, taxpayer & parent in Wisconsin!
At this stage the bills are given “LRB Numbers” before formal introduction. These bills respond to the needs and concerns shared by parents and school districts all over the state, and provide an opportunity for legislators to come together in bipartisan support of the public schools that are the hearts of our communities.

Contact your legislators TODAY and ask them to co-sponsor these bills. Then call on your local school board and administrators to show their support for this legislation. And be sure to thank them for their support of our public schools when they do!

Transportation Spending: It’s time for a comprehensive audit

Kathleen Vinehout
Transportation Spending: It’s time for a comprehensive audit
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Senate leader on budget deal: ‘I don’t know where we are at’” was the headline of a recent Associated Press story on the budget deal. The story went on to report there’s “no agreement yet on how to pay for transportation projects…”
 
While the Senate leader gathered up votes, I gathered up a few studies to understand if all this borrowing was necessary.
 
Here’s what I found:
 
Transportation spending is about $6 billion - 8.5% of our total state budget. About 40% of that comes from the federal government.
 
Last April, the budget committee received good news that low fuel costs meant residents were driving more and gas tax money is up – by about $13 million over 3 years.

NY Times Magazine explores Scott Walker's union-busting ways

This thoughtful piece by Dan Kaufman explores the relationship between Scott Walker's "divide and conquer" strategy and labor in Wisconsin. The article particularly follows local iron worker Randy Bryce, and provides a historical context for so-called "right-to-work" legislation in the US.

“My name is Randy Bryce,” he began in a loud voice. “I’ve been a member of Ironworkers Local 8 since 1997. I’ve had the privilege in that time to work on many of Wisconsin’s landmarks, private businesses and numerous other parts of our infrastructure.” As he spoke, the protesters began to quiet. Bryce described how he had wandered from job to job after he left the Army, how Local 8’s apprenticeship program had given him direction, a real career. Finally, he presented the case against what he called “a blatant political attack” on his union. “All of our representatives are elected,” he said. “All of the decisions that we make are voted on. The general membership is given monthly reports on how every dime is spent. Every dime spent is voted on. Unlike what is taking place this week, Ironworkers Local 8 is pure democracy. I am disappointed beyond words at not just what this bill contains, but how it is being passed.”

RIP Academic Freedom in Wisconsin

I want to point out a couple of articles from fellow bloggers about the legislature's attempts to obliterate tenure and fiscal accountability. It's a great idea if you really want education in the state to be dictated by politicians.

Over at Mal Contends there's an interesting opinion about how the real motive behind destroying the LAB is to hijack more control over the university -

This embedded statutory protection for the University System and academic freedom in the LAB statute would be eliminated, replaced by the analyses of proposed (and ideologically vetted) inspectors generals who would be free to proactively examine academic programs, courses within the University of Wisconsin System, instructional methods, research and public service activities and then make audits that could be used by the Walker-vetted Board of Regents for the purpose of breaking up UW-Madison, for instance, and replacing or eradicating academic programs ideologically unpopular with the GOP and political donors under the rubric of proactive fiscal action,

Press Release: Assembly Republicans Refuse to Consider Transparency and Accountability for WEDC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DATE: June 9, 2015

CONTACT: Zach Madden, 608-266-7521(office) 920-627-5773 (cell)

 

Assembly Republicans Refuse to Consider Transparency and Accountability for WEDC

 

MADISON – Today, Republicans in the State Assembly refused to join with Democrats in requesting that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provide a report to the legislature including records and documentation of any unsecured loans, loans issued over concerns of underwriters, or loans where underwriting documentation is missing or incomplete. 

Sen. Vinehout: Reps Craig and Jarchow Display “Staggering Ignorance” of Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB)

Monday, June 08, 2015
 
Sen. Vinehout: Reps Craig and Jarchow Display “Staggering Ignorance” of Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB)
 
Republican Representatives Craig (R-Big Bend) and Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) authored a bill to entirely eliminate the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) and the legislature’s Joint Committee on Audit.
 
Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), ranking minority member of the Joint Committee on Audit, harshly criticized the bill.
 
“The breadth of the Representatives’ ignorance of the LAB activities and processes is staggering,” Vinehout said. “Their bill shows a complete unfamiliarity with the skills of auditors, the efficiencies in government that LAB staff helped create and the fraud, waste and abuse that auditors discovered and further prevented through their oversight.”
 
Representatives Craig and Jarchow drafted a bill to create an Inspector General for each state agency over 100 employees. The Inspectors General are directed to audit agencies and/or programs by the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Majority Leader.
 
“The Craig/Jarchow bill transfers all legislative oversight of the executive branch and the fraud, waste and abuse hotline to two partisan leaders,” Vinehout said. “Their bill embeds auditors in the agencies making them ripe for corruption by executive staff and partisan leaders.”
 
Recent audits of economic development programs and Medicaid transportation provided lawmakers with critical and budget timely information. Last year’s audit of the Supervised Release program showed that the Department of Health Services was spending more for inmate transportation than the Department of Corrections.
 
“Legislative actions should be based on accurate information,” said Vinehout. “There are so many examples of how the exemplary and award-winning work of the Legislative Audit Bureau saved taxpayer dollars. All I can ask is why would legislators want do away with the LAB?”

 

Kicking Controls Out the Window - No UW oversight by LAB a Recipe for Corruption

Kathleen Vinehout
June 10, 2015
 
Kicking Controls Out the Window
No UW oversight by LAB a Recipe for Corruption
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Suspend current law…requiring the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an annual financial audit of the UW System. Instead, require the UW System to contract with an independent accounting firm,” read the motion introduced by Senator Harsdorf and Representative Schraa.
 
Recent action by a majority of the state’s budget writing committee not only kicked the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) out of the UW System but also approved a process to get rid of state purchasing laws at the UW and waive the state’s bidding process for some UW building projects.

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