Category Archives: Politics – Wisconsin

Vote ‘no’ on foolish referendum

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

On April 2, the citizens of the West Bend School District are being asked to borrow $47 million, with an estimated payback of $74 million, to build a new Jackson Elementary School and to renovate portions of the high school building. Adhering to the old wisdom that we should not spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need, I will be voting “no” on the referendum. I encourage you to do the same.

Let us start with the money. $74 million is a lot of money. That should go without saying, but in the swirling debates around government spending, that fact tends to get lost. By any measure, $74 million is a LOT of money. To put that in context, there are roughly 40,000 adults in the West Bend School District. $74 million is $1,850 for every single adult in the district. That is not a trivial amount of money for most of us. That is what the school district is asking every voter to spend.

Not only is it a lot of money, it is money that we do not have — as evidenced by the fact that the district needs to borrow the money. The district is also still paying off two previous referendums. If this referendum passes, the citizens of the West Bend School District will be on the hook to pay back a whopping $106 million. Now we are up to $2,650 for every adult just to pay off the district’s debt.

And while it might be easy to brush off such debt in our current booming economy and rising housing prices, we must remember that the district intends to take out a 19-year loan for this spending. The Great Recession was only 12 years ago and there will be recessions in the future. Yet when jobs are scarce and property values are crashing again, the tax burden to pay this debt will remain. Paying off the government’s debt will come before paying for your family’s needs.

What makes the prospect of spending and borrowing this much money so incredibly irresponsible is that it will be for something that we don’t need. Sure, we might want it. Fancy new buildings are fun and cool. But we don’t need it. The Jackson Elementary building is perfectly serviceable and safe. The building has been used to safely educate kids for decades and it can continue to do so for decades if properly maintained.

The high school building could use some renovations. Consolidating the libraries is a good idea. Some of the infrastructure is due for replacing. Some classrooms could use a fresh coat of paint. But almost all of the proposed renovations are wants, not needs. The couple of needs are things that could, and should, be done as part of the normal maintenance cycle of managing a building. They should be budgeted and completed with the normal operating budget. The fact that the school district has failed to properly budget for the routine maintenance cycle of the infrastructure they own is a mark of incompetence that should not be covered with swaths of borrowed cash.

Furthermore, we can’t lose sight of the fact that enrollment is declining and is projected to do so for at least the next decade. According to the district’s own projections completed less than a year ago, total district enrollment will decline by anywhere from 15 percent (baseline method) to 23.5 percent (kindergarten trend) in 10 short years — nine years before the proposed loan is paid off. That’s over a thousand fewer kids in the district in a decade.

Specifically for Jackson Elementary, a building that once held 536 kids 10 years ago is projected to have as few as 307 kids in it 10 years from now. Is it wise for the taxpayers to borrow and spend tens of millions ofdollars to build a brandnew, colossal 82,000-squarefoot school for 43 percent fewer kids?

Finally, what continues to get lost in the debate over referendums is the purpose of a school system — to educate kids. The school district officials and other advocates for the referendum don’t even pretend that spending all of this money on pristine, new facilities will actually improve education. They rightly don’t make that claim because it is demonstrably true that the building in which education happens has nothing to do with the quality of education taking place in that building. Some of the best education in the world occurs in some of the oldest buildings. Education is an activity — not a place. All of our efforts and money should be directed to providing a great education for our kids — not building monuments to the egos of adults.

The West Bend School District has needs. With dramatically declining enrollment and mediocre educational outcomes, new and refurbished buildings are not one of them. Let us put the money we have into improving the quality of education instead of borrowing money we don’t have to pay for things we don’t need.

Foxconn Plant To Be Operational By 2020

Great!

Electronics maker Foxconn Technology Group said Monday it will begin construction this summer on a display-screen manufacturing hub near Racine, with plans for production to start by the end of 2020.

A company statement said the construction marks the next phase of Foxconn’s overall blueprint for its campus in Mount Pleasant.

It underscores the company’s manufacturing plans at the site, weeks after reports and statements by Foxconn officials suggested the company was scaling back or changing its plans to build display screens in Wisconsin.

If the plant is operational by fall 2020, it also could give political fodder to one of its top cheerleaders, President Donald Trump, who has touted Foxconn’s plans as heralding a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing.
This will be hard for Wisconsin’s Democrats. Will they celebrate this great economic boon to Wisconsin or will they continue to carp and moan because Trump celebrates it? In other words, will Democrats prioritize partisan politics over celebrating Wisconsin’s success? I think we know the answer to that.

Vote ‘no’ on foolish referendum

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a sample, but go pick up a copy.

On April 2, the citizens of the West Bend School District are being asked to borrow $47 million, with an estimated payback of $74 million, to build a new Jackson Elementary School and to renovate portions of the high school building. Adhering to the old wisdom that we should not spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need, I will be voting “no” on the referendum. I encourage you to do the same.

[…]

Finally, what continues to get lost in the debate over referendums is the purpose of a school system — to educate kids. The school district officials and other advocates for the referendum don’t even pretend that spending all of this money on pristine, new facilities will actually improve education. They rightly don’t make that claim because it is demonstrably true that the building in which education happens has nothing to do with the quality of education taking place in that building. Some of the best education in the world occurs in some of the oldest buildings. Education is an activity — not a place. All of our efforts and money should be directed to providing a great education for our kids — not building monuments to the egos of adults.

The West Bend School District has needs. With dramatically declining enrollment and mediocre educational outcomes, new and refurbished buildings are not one of them. Let us put the money we have into improving the quality of education instead of borrowing money we don’t have to pay for things we don’t need.

 

Beto Touts Wisconsin’s Importance

Worth thinking about

Determined not to ignore Wisconsin in his quest for the White House, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke made his second visit to the state in a month on Sunday, meeting with voters who spilled out of a downtown Madison coffee shop out to the sidewalk.

“This state is fundamental to any prospect we have of electing a Democrat to the presidency in 2020 and being ready to start on Day One in 2021,” the former Texas congressman told reporters after the event. “I’m really glad that the Democratic National Committee selected Wisconsin and Milwaukee to host the convention, I think that’s a good sign and a recognition of this, but that won’t be enough. We’ve got to show up.”

There continues to be a strong push by many Lefties to discard the Electoral College and go to a straight popular election for president. If that were the case, Beto would never have even come to Wisconsin. Nor would the Democrats have selected Milwaukee for their convention. Frankly, with just a couple of million votes at stake, states like Wisconsin would almost never see a presidential candidate in person unless their plan had to make an emergency landing. So if you like being able to meet and see presidential candidates without leaving the state, thank the Electoral College.

Evers’ Delusion

What the

Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday said he thinks his budget will come “close” to his campaign pledge to raise no new taxes, despite the fact that it would raise taxes by more than $1 billion over two years.

“I think we’ll be pretty close,” Evers said during an interview on WTMJ radio, adding that there might be some “small” increases.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tweeted after the interview: “Is this a joke?”

Evers’ message on taxes shifted throughout his campaign for governor as he faced attacks from Republicans who argued he would implement massive increases if elected.

He told reporters in September that his goal was “to keep taxes reasonable in the state of Wisconsin,” but days before the election, he told the Washington Post he was “planning to raise no new taxes.” He repeated the claim on Nov. 4.

“I’m planning on raising no taxes,” he told WISN-TV.

I hope the Republicans help Evers keep his pledge.

Evers Stokes Division in Madison

Heh

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will sign a Republican bill removing the term “mental retardation” from five state agencies’ administrative codes even though he’s already issued an executive order that does just that, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Evers issued the order late Tuesday afternoon, stunning GOP legislators who have been pushing their bill toward floor votes in both the Senate and Assembly. The measure’s authors, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and state Rep. John Jagler, who has a daughter with Down syndrome, accused the governor of copying them and vowed to keep working on the legislation.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the governor would “happily” sign the bill if it reaches his desk. She said Evers believes protecting Wisconsin residents’ dignity is more important than who gets to claim credit.

That statement by Evers’ mouthpiece would sound noble if it weren’t for the fact that Evers specifically took action to get all the credit. And there’s the rub… Evers knew this bill was coming. He could have waited to sign it, have a nice signing ceremony with the lawmakers, and use it as a way to build relationships and bipartisanship. This was the perfect bill to do it.

Instead, he used it as an opportunity to poke the legislative leaders in the eye… again. Evers is showing over and over again that he has no interest at all in trying to work across the aisle. His is just going to continue campaigning and never shift to governing.

Legislature to Defend Life

Excellent.

The GOP-controlled Legislature is seeking to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion laws because Republican lawmakers don’t have confidence Attorney General Josh Kaul will defend the laws adequately.

The intervention, which is pending a committee vote, reflects a broader strategy Republicans are taking to circumvent a Democratic attorney general they distrust to defend the state’s laws faithfully. Kaul in a court filing in February said the Department of Justice would represent the state in the lawsuit, and his spokeswoman previously signaled he would defend state law.

Republican lawmakers have already said they plan to participate in other contentious cases challenging the state’s political maps and the state’s lame-duck laws curbing some of the governor’s and attorney general’s powers.

Kaul has already made it abundantly clear that his liberal activism will trump (pardon the pun) his duties to defend properly passed Wisconsin laws. This way, we at least know that Wisconsin’s laws will get a robust defense. And if Kaul surprises us and offers that muscular defense, then it’s no harm done, right?

Conservatives, can we talk?

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

My fellow conservatives, we need to have a talk. A serious talk. The kind of talk that might make your stomach twist up a little, but we have to have it. It’s important. Hey, you liberals who usually read the first few paragraphs of this column before rolling your eyes and checking your Instagram, you can go ahead and get started on the cat videos early. This column is not for you. We will see you next week.

Are the liberals gone yet? Good.

Conservatives, what the heck happened to all of you?

For most of this decade, we have been on top of our game. We were organized, energized, and focused. We had our internal squabbles, but we worked hard to elect conservatives time and time again. We elected a Republican Legislature and then continued to make it more conservative. We elected Scott Walker — three times. We turned the Supreme Court into one that actually respects the rule of law and the role of the court.

The results have been fantastic. Our votes have led to lower taxes, concealed carry, right-to-work, protecting life, the expansion of school choice, regulatory reform, and an economic boom like we have not seen in generations. All of the work, time, and money spent getting conservatives elected at all levels of government have made a real positive difference in the lives of millions of Wisconsinites.

Then, last year, many of you inexplicably stood down. Last April, conservatives failed to show up to support Michael Screnock for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, allowing a rabid liberal to win a precious seat on that court. In November, conservatives twiddled their thumbs while liberals won every statewide seat on the ballot. We managed to protect the Legislature, but just couldn’t get jazzed enough to beat some really terrible liberal Democrats.

Here we are on the eve of the April election again and conservatives are still slumbering. In my home town of West Bend, which is supposed to be in the heart of conservative Wisconsin, we have a ridiculous school referendum where the school district wants to throw $74 million at shiny buildings right after the School Board voted to close the only charter school, give the teachers a $1 million raise, and were outed for allowing their teachers to ram the liberal orthodoxy down the throats of kids.

Worse than that, every candidate for the West Bend School Board on the same ballot supports the referendum while professing to be fiscally conservative. Calling themselves “fiscal conservatives” while supporting this outlandish school referendum is like someone saying they are vegan but that they occasionally like a nice plate of ribs. Their actions refute their words. Sadly, in West Bend, after this April, there will no longer be a single conservative on the West Bend School Board. The conservatives in the West Bend School District gave up and gave their government schools to a liberal activist faction.

The most important race on the ballot is again for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Conservative Judge Brian Hagedorn is running against a doctrinaire liberal, Judge Lisa Neubauer. Every single gain made by conservatives this decade is on the line. Moreover, the next decade hangs in the balance. After the 2020 census, Wisconsin will redraw its district maps again. In a divided government, the redistricting fight will almost certainly end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Every election for the next decade will be impacted by redistricting and the liberals know it. As we saw in Pennsylvania, a liberal activist court will gerrymander their way to electoral majorities without scruples or regret.

Despite all that is at stake, conservatives are once again standing aside. Most of the purportedly conservative groups who weigh in on elections are sticking their hands in their pockets. Too many conservatives are sitting at home griping on social media while liberals are putting their energy and money into supporting their candidate. Even as the liberals make vile, bigoted, anti-Christian attacks on Judge Hagedorn, conservatives cluck and do nothing. Where are the Catholics, Lutherans, and evangelicals standing up to defend attacks on their faith?

You have to hand it to Wisconsin’s liberals. They are relentless. They are organized, well-funded, and passionate about their beliefs.Conservatives were able to match them for most of this century’s sophomore decade, but now we have decided to take a collective nap. The liberals are still wide awake and fighting.

Why did so many of us conservatives give up? Is it because of Trump? Is it lingering frustration over the last state budget? Are you still mad about Walker’s presidential run? I don’t care. Get over it. None of those things has anything to do with the future of our state and our communities. We have serious work to do.

I often receive comments along the lines of, “I agree. What can I do?” That’s easy. First, go vote. Second, get to work. Volunteer. Donate money. Talk to your friends and family. Take the future of your community and your state as seriously as you do your children’s future, because those futures are one and the same.

Conservatives, can we talk?

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a bit:

My fellow conservatives, we need to have a talk. A serious talk. The kind of talk that might make your stomach twist up a little, but we have to have it. It’s important. Hey, you liberals who usually read the first few paragraphs of this column before rolling your eyes and checking your Instagram, you can go ahead and get started on the cat videos early. This column is not for you. We will see you next week.

Are the liberals gone yet? Good.

Conservatives, what the heck happened to all of you?

[…]

Despite all that is at stake, conservatives are once again standing aside. Most of the purportedly conservative groups who weigh in on elections are sticking their hands in their pockets. Too many conservatives are sitting at home griping on social media while liberals are putting their energy and money into supporting their candidate. Even as the liberals make vile, bigoted, anti-Christian attacks on Judge Hagedorn, conservatives cluck and do nothing. Where are the Catholics, Lutherans, and evangelicals standing up to defend attacks on their faith?

You have to hand it to Wisconsin’s liberals. They are relentless. They are organized, well-funded, and passionate about their beliefs. Conservatives were able to match them for most of this century’s sophomore decade, but now we have decided to take a collective nap. The liberals are still wide awake and fighting.

Why did so many of us conservatives give up? Is it because of Trump? Is it lingering frustration over the last state budget? Are you still mad about Walker’s presidential run? I don’t care. Get over it. None of those things has anything to do with the future of our state and our communities. We have serious work to do.

I often receive comments along the lines of, “I agree. What can I do?” That’s easy. First, go vote. Second, get to work. Volunteer. Donate money. Talk to your friends and family. Take the future of your community and your state as seriously as you do your children’s future, because those futures are one and the same.

2020 Democratic Convention to be in Miwaukee

Wow!

Milwaukee will host the Democratic National Convention in 2020, bringing hundreds of millions in tourism dollars to Wisconsin while showcasing its largest city and one of a few states likely to decide the presidency.

The Associated Press reported Monday morning on the plans by Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez. Perez was set to make a formal announcement Monday afternoon.

A centerpiece of Milwaukee’s DNC bid is the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, Fiserv Forum, which will host the convention.

I admit that I’m torn on it. On the one hand, it is fantastic news that Milwaukee and Wisconsin will benefit from the influx of activity. Plus, it will be fun, as a political blogger, to have the convention in my backyard.

On the other hand, the Democrats have a history of stiffing host cities with unpaid expenses that the taxpayers have to pick up. Plus, with what is likely to be a hotly contested primary, we can safely predict plenty of riotous behavior and destruction.

Now the die is cast. My strong advice to Milwaukee’s leaders would be to get their money – including money in escrow to pay for possible overtime and damages – up front.

Foxconn Complies With Wisconsin’s Environmental Regulations

There you go.

A top aide to Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday he believes all of the state permits issued to tech giant Foxconn have been reviewed by the state Department of Natural Resources and deemed appropriate.

But the damage to the relationship with Foxconn is done. Despite having gone through the process and received the appropriate permits, they were forced deal with regulators again and wait to see if they would pass the new administration’s test. Inconsistent treatment, uncertainty, and the arbitrary application of regulations kills businesses.

No More Conservatives in West Bend

At least, not on the West Bend School Board. Here’s a story this weekend from the Washington County Daily News.

WEST BEND — April 2 will bring an important question to West Bend residents, as well as an opportunity to decide what the West Bend Joint School District’s school board will look like for the foreseeable future. With Ken Schmidt and Tiffany Larson taking a step back, three candidates have begun their campaign to fill those seats on the Board of Education. Paul Fischer, Christopher Bach and Erin Dove will have their names on the April election ballot. They shared their thoughts on the $47 million referendum.

I’ll save you some reading… all of them support the referendum. Once Ken Schmidt leaves the board in a few weeks, there will no longer be any conservatives on the West Bend School Board. Some of the board members may be conservative in their personal lives, but that govern like liberals.

Let’s review… in the past year, the school board has decided to shut down the district’s only charter school. They have given teachers a million-dollar across-the-board pay increase. They abandoned merit pay for teachers. They used the liberal playbook to get a massive spending referendum on the ballot. They were exposed for allowing multiple teachers to use class time to ram liberal ideology down the throats of kids. Meanwhile, enrollment continues to decline and the educational outcomes continue to be mediocre.

Tell me how this behavior is different from what we see in Madison or Milwaukee?

Evers Proposes to Triple Capital Budget and Fund it with Debt

Because, of course he does.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has requested more than $2.5 billion in his two-year building projects capital budget, with close to half of the proposed money going to upgrades and renovations at University of Wisconsin System facilities.

The 2019-21 capital request is about three times larger than the $803 million requested by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker in his 2017-19 capital budget request.

About $2 billion of Evers’ request would come from state taxpayer-supported borrowing.

Referendum Meeting Recap

I attended the referendum informational meeting at Jackson Elementary last night. For the uninitiated, the West Bend School District is asking the voters to borrow $47 million with a $74 million payback to build a new Jackson Elementary building and do a bunch of renovations at the high school. I have already stated that I oppose the referendum for a myriad of reasons, but I’m always open to change my mind. I went to the meeting to see if I was missing something. For the record, I’m not, but it was an interesting meeting nonetheless.

I like the referendum process and am glad that we have it. While I disagree with this one and will vote against it, the process itself allows the community to have a robust discussion about spending, tax increases, and priorities. This little act of direct democracy in a republican form of government is healthy. Here are a few thoughts on what transpired last night:

  • The format of the meeting was manipulative. Normally, in a meeting like this, the superintendent or leader would present the facts and then take questions. I this case, the superintendent gave a short 15 minute presentation, but then instead of taking questions, the audience members were instructed to go to the back of the room and speak individually with the architects, finance people, or school district people to get their answered their questions. The stated reason for this format was to make sure that the “experts” could give more detailed answers. The practical effect was to prevent people from hearing what other people were asking, isolate them, and diffuse any appearance of opposition.
  • Joel Ongert, the President of the School Board, was there. He neither introduced himself to the audience nor answered any questions.
  • The superintendent’s presentation was fine. He stated multiple times that he was just there to give the facts and not advocate. He did not overtly advocate, but the bias is in the presentation of the facts. He presented the misleading view of the tax burden to support the referendum and a skewed version of the timeline leading up to the referendum. But he did also point out that many parts of the buildings were much newer than the original 100+ year-old parts.
  • Interestingly, the superintendent and a couple of other school officials repeatedly made the point that state law forbids them from using referendum money for anything not stated in the ballot question. True, as far as it goes, but the referendum question is very vague and leaves a LOT of room for interpretation. Methinks they protest too much.
  • I took the tour with the principal and about 25 other people. My overall impression was that the school is perfectly fine. The building has some quirky things because of the way it was appended over the years, but it was solid, functional, clean, and generally in good shape. It certainly did not appear to need to be demolished. There were a few maintenance items that needed to be done, like replace some ceiling tiles, but the building was in pretty great shape. Most of the complaints were about theoretical issues. For example, one hallway has a long ramp that might be difficult to navigate for a kid in a wheel chair. Might. Has it ever been an actual problem in the history of the school? Not that anyone could cite.
  • When I returned to the gym, I spoke with the principal and a couple of other people. I ended up in a rather lengthy discussion with a guy who lives in Slinger but sells real estate in Jackson. He was adamant that building the new school would attract people to Jackson and boost property values. When I brought up the projections for declining enrollment and the demographic shift driving it, he brushed it as “projections.” He did admit, however, that building a new building would not actually contribute anything to educating kids. Property values, population growth, etc. may all be good things, but the school district’s mission is supposed to be to educate kids.
  • At the end of the meeting, there was a lady standing at the door handing out pro-referendum yard signs and flyers. Yes, you read that right. On school grounds. After the informational meeting. The School District officials permitted a person to hand out pro-referendum materials. This way, the district can claim to not be “advocating,” but they are giving their support group the space to advocate and bringing the audience to them. It’s a sham end-around of the law. Maybe I’ll print out a bunch of opposition flyers and see if I can hand them out at the next meeting.

My overwhelming impression from the meeting was that there are a lot of people lining up to tell me what a great idea the referendum is who don’t live here and won’t be paying the bill. Bray, the architecture firm? Says it’s a great idea, but is based in Milwaukee. Baird, the finance folks? Says it’s the best time to borrow, but won’t be paying for it. The real estate guy? Lives in Slinger, but wants Jackson real estate prices to rise. Even the Superintendent… it did not escape my attention that he still has South Dakota plates on his car. He’s at the end of his career and I am certain that he will not be living in the West Bend School District for the next 19 years to pay off this referendum.

Many of the people pushing the referendum won’t have to pay for it, but they will receive financial benefit for it. Bray will make a fortune building the schools if it passes. Baird will make money off of the financing. Real estate guy will make money off of rising property values (assuming that happens). The superintendent will cash in his retirement benefits as he moves back to South Dakota. Everyone there seemed to have their hands in my pocket and not a single one of them even pretends that spending $74 million will make one kid smarter. It won’t improve test scores. It won’t improve educational outcomes. It won’t improve graduation rates.

What is more and more clear is that the West Bend referendum isn’t about education at all. It’s about the shakedown of taxpayers for the financial benefit of a few.

So I guess I did learn something new at the referendum informational meeting. I learned that it is worse than I thought.

Why Are Kids Fleeing MPS’ Conventional Schools?

Interesting point from Bruce Thompson at Urban Milwaukee.

For the past two decades, there has been an influential faction, including the Milwaukee teachers’ union (MTEA) and some school board members, that blames MPS’s problems on the availability of charter schools and vouchers for private schools. According to the MTEA and its close ally the Working Families Party, the solution to declining MPS enrollment is to prevent parents from choosing to send their children to charter schools or private schools.

Thus, instead of asking how MPS can better serve its customers, the children and their parents living in Milwaukee, the emphasis is on recreating a monopoly by getting rid of the competition. Ironically, charter schools chartered by MPS are among the most successful, if the state’s school report cards are used as a measure. This is particularly true if one looks at schools with a high percentage of students in poverty.

Partly this reflects the MPS competitive advantage, its ability to offer its empty space to a charter school. However, growing hostility towards charters on the board has made charter school administrators begin to wonder if they should consider switching to another charter authorizer.

Consider what happened to Wendell Harris, the only incumbent running for reelection in April election for school board. Four years ago, Harris ran and won with the support of the MTEA. This year the union is opposing his re-election. His crime? After visiting Carmen and deciding it was a very good school, he voted in favor of its sharing space in Pulaski High School. Essentially, his crime was putting the interest of the students ahead of that of MPS.

The next table lists the candidates for school board in the upcoming election. I think it is safe to say that those in the left-hand column have convinced the MTEA and the Working Families Party that they won’t make Harris’ heresy of approving a charter school application just because it does a good job of educating students.

2019 MTEA Endorsements

2019 MTEA Endorsements

To put this in perspective, conventional MPS schools currently serve around 56 percent of the Milwaukee children whose education is publicly supported, while 39 percent are in independent charter schools or private schools through the choice program. In order to get the Working Families/MTEA endorsement, the candidates in the left-hand column are committed to trying to disrupt the education of 39 percent of Milwaukee’s students.

Evers Preaches Patience on CWD Management

I agree with him on this.

Three wild deer tested positive for CWD in the Crescent Corner area near the Lincoln-Oneida County line, all since 2017.

Democrats criticized former Governor Scott Walker for not doing enough to stop the spread of CWD.
During a stop in Rhinelander on Tuesday, Evers said he wants the DNR to take its time studying the disease more.

“It wasn’t that we were dismissing the issue of CWD, it’s obviously a very important one,” Evers said. “It’s a very important one for our state, tourism, hunting, natural resources, but we believe the first place to start is around that.”

Scientists first found CWD in southern Wisconsin in 2002. Recently, the DNR has asked hunters to submit more deer for testing. The agency is also in the middle of a four-year study in southwestern Wisconsin that should offer a lot more information .

“We’re going to make sure that we’re very thoughtful,” DNR Secretary-Designee Preston Cole said. “When we roll something out in the future, we’re going to make sure that the science is there, we have our partners there.”

Who wants to live in Evers’ Wisconsin?

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

The first salvo in Wisconsin’s biennial budget process has been delivered. Gov. Tony Evers has delivered his budget proposal to the Legislature and it is a hot mess of liberal vengeance against the previous eight years. If our state’s budget were not so important to so many people, one would be inclined to think that Governor Evers is trying to play a joke on the people of Wisconsin.

When Evers began to draft his budget proposal, there were two paths before him. One path was the one of compromise. Knowing that he defeated Scott Walker by fewer than 30,000 votes and that the same electorate had sent even stronger Republican majorities to the Legislature, Evers could have taken the path of reasonable compromise that had a high probability of moving legislation in favor of his goals. Indeed, the Republican leaders in the Legislature had been sending strong signals that they were willing to compromise on a number of issues including education funding, transportation spending, criminal justice reform, and several other issues that Evers highlighted during the campaign.

The second path before Evers was one of inflexible fealty to the radical liberal base that elected him. He could write a budget that amounted to a liberal manifesto that tossed vegan faux meat to every liberal interest group in his batty base. Evers chose the second path. His choice to advance a statement of political doctrine instead of a serious budget proposal has forced the legislative Republicans to toss Evers’ proposal in the recycling bin and start from scratch.

While Evers’ budget proposal fails to measure up as something to be evaluated as serious legislation, it does offer Wisconsinites a view of the Wisconsin Evers and the Democrats would create if the voters were foolish enough to give them control of government.

In Evers’ Wisconsin, we would all pay more taxes. Wisconsin’s manufacturers would pay higher taxes forcing them to cut costs elsewhere or move to a more friendly state. Wisconsinites would pay higher taxes on capital gains — a particular burden for entrepreneurs and investors in Wisconsin businesses. Wisconsinites would also may higher gas taxes to feed the transportation lobby and higher property taxes to shovel into government schools. While he does not yet raise income or sales taxes, Wisconsin would run a massive structural deficit that would have to eventually be fixed.

In Evers’ Wisconsin, all of those tax increases would go to fuel a massive increase in spending. Evers would spend more on government K-12 schools without bothering to insist on better results for the taxpayers’ largesse. The University of Wisconsin System would get an injection of taxpayer funds, as would transportation, Medicaid, the Department of Natural Resources, the juvenile justice system, and many other areas. In all, Evers’ Wisconsin would have 701 more government employees, for a total of 71,990 people, to poke and prod into every area of Wisconsinites’ lives. Evers’ Wisconsin would spend a whopping $1,300 more per person.

In Evers’ Wisconsin, work requirements for welfare recipients would be rolled back. In a state with full employment, people could still sit on the dole when there are jobs waiting to be filled. Wisconsin would be well on the path to legalizing marijuana despite the incredible social costs being paid by states that have already legalized it.

In Evers’ Wisconsin, illegal aliens would be given driver’s licenses and ID cards, making it easier for them to vote and prohibiting every other Wisconsinite from using their driver’s license for air travel because Wisconsin would no longer comply with the REAL ID Act.

In Evers’ Wisconsin, criminals would be given light sentences for their crimes because keeping them on the street is more important than protecting innocent Wisconsinites.

In Evers’ Wisconsin, the DNR and other regulators would be re-weaponized to make sure that no Wisconsinite or business dares to move a rock or drain a puddle without suffering the expensive and intrusive scrutiny of a government bureaucrat.

In Evers’ Wisconsin, our right-to-work law would be repealed, forcing workers to belong to unions when they do not want to be. This violates their right to freely associate and automatically takes Wisconsin off of the list of states that some businesses will consider to locate.

Frankly, Evers’ Wisconsin sounds terrible. It is not a state that makes it easier, more enjoyable, or more affordable to live, work, or play. Thankfully, we do not live in Evers’ Wisconsin. In our republican and divided form of government, Governor Evers is still one man whose barmy ideas can be ignored by the adults in the room.

The Republican legislators are right to start fresh and craft their own budget. Evers has already shown that he is unwilling to compromise when he vetoed the middleclass tax cut that the legislature passed last month. As long as his sole governing principle remains appeasing Wisconsinites fringe liberals, it is probable that he will veto all or most of a budget proposed by the Republican Legislature.

The good news is that Wisconsin’s state government will not shut down if a new budget is not enacted. The old budget will continue to fund Wisconsin’s government perpetually. The Republicans have the strongest hand if they are willing to play it. They win by simply doing nothing.

If there was any hope that Governor Evers would seek middle ground from which to lead an ideologically diverse state, his budget proposal has shattered that hope.

Evers Relents and Releases Public Record

Why are Evers’ instincts always so wrong?

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday released a handwritten note given to him by former Gov. Scott Walker just before he left office in January, after initially refusing an Associated Press open records request for the document.

Evers released it hours after the AP published a story about his denial and asked that he reconsider. Evers rejected the initial open records request, saying that the letter was “purely personal” and therefore not subject to the open records law.

“However, we appreciate the public’s interest in knowing about correspondence between governors, regardless of the nature of the messages,” the governor’s spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in a follow-up message that included the letter.

In the brief two-paragraph note, Walker, a Republican, congratulates Evers, a Democrat, on his victory.

“It is my sincere hope that you will do well, as well as the state, during your time as governor,” Walker wrote. “As you know, this is a wonderful state and I am positive that will continue in the future.”

He goes on to say, “My best advice is personal. Remember to stay connected to your friends who were your friends long before elections. They will keep your life grounded and positive. Good luck and God be with you!”

What would have been wrong with releasing this note? What possible government interest is served by keeping it private? Or did Evers just not want people to see that Walker isn’t the evil caricature the liberals make him out to be? Bill Lueders (no conservative, he) has it right:

Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council president Bill Lueders, who initially said Evers should be ashamed for not making the letter public, praised his reversal.

“It’s good that Tony Evers and his staff have recognized that the law is supposed to be interpreted in a way that provides maximum transparency,” Lueders said. “I am hopeful that he will keep it up.”

Contemptible Holder To Campaign for Neubauer

Eric Holder, the disgraced corrupt former Attorney General who was held in contempt of Congress for withholding information about his gun running into Mexico, will pump money into supporting Neubauer. And she, despite her previous statements blasting special interest money, will gleefully accept it. Nice, eh?

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A group founded by former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that it is spending $350,000 to help liberal-backed candidate Lisa Neubauer get elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee and its affiliates have been active in Wisconsin, spending more than $2 million last year to help liberal candidates, including Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet and Democrat Tony Evers, who defeated Republican Scott Walker for governor.

[…]

Thompson noted that Neubauer has been critical of outside spending on court races in the past.

“Now she’s happy to accept it,” Thompson said. “The key question is, ‘What’s changed?'”

Who wants to live in Evers’ Wisconsin?

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a sample.

The first salvo in Wisconsin’s biennial budget process has been delivered. Gov. Tony Evers has delivered his budget proposal to the Legislature and it is a hot mess of liberal vengeance against the previous eight years. If our state’s budget were not so important to so many people, one would be inclined to think that Governor Evers is trying to play a joke on the people of Wisconsin.

When Evers began to draft his budget proposal, there were two paths before him. One path was the one of compromise. Knowing that he defeated Scott Walker by fewer than 30,000 votes and that the same electorate had sent even stronger Republican majorities to the Legislature, Evers could have taken the path of reasonable compromise that had a high probability of moving legislation in favor of his goals. Indeed, the Republican leaders in the Legislature had been sending strong signals that they were willing to compromise on a number of issues including education funding, transportation spending, criminal justice reform, and several other issues that Evers highlighted during the campaign.

The second path before Evers was one of inflexible fealty to the radical liberal base that elected him. He could write a budget that amounted to a liberal manifesto that tossed vegan faux meat to every liberal interest group in his batty base. Evers chose the second path. His choice to advance a statement of political doctrine instead of a serious budget proposal has forced the legislative Republicans to toss Evers’ proposal in the recycling bin and start from scratch.

While Evers’ budget proposal fails to measure up assomething to be evaluated as serious legislation, it does offer Wisconsinites a view of the Wisconsin Evers and the Democrats would create if the voters were foolish enough to give them control of government.

[…]

Frankly, Evers’ Wisconsin sounds terrible. It is not a state that makes it easier, more enjoyable, or more affordable to live, work, or play. Thankfully, we do not live in Evers’ Wisconsin. In our republican and divided form of government, Governor Evers is still one man whose barmy ideas can be ignored by the adults in the room.