Category Archives: Politics – Wisconsin

Evers Vetoes Tax Cut

Governor Evers want to just spend your money.

MADISON (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a Republican-authored $250 million income tax bill on Wednesday at an elementary school in Wauwatosa, arguing that the Legislature should instead work with him on a compromise that includes more money for education.

And, apparently, he doesn’t know how government works.

‘‘There’s no time for compromise right now,’’ Fitzgerald said, noting that the Assembly adjourned last week for the year. The Senate plans to meet just one more time in about a month.

Remember when you get your paychecks that you could have been paying less in taxes if it weren’t for Governor Evers.

Two Million Taxpayers Would Receive Tax Cuts Under GOP Bill

But Evers will still veto it. It’s his money… not yours, don’t you know?

More than 2 million taxpayers would see a tax cut from a Republican passed bill in the Wisconsin legislature, according to an analysis from the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE).

“We find it would reduce taxes for about 2 million taxpayers and reduce state tax revenue by about $200 million, so the reduction per affected taxpayer is about $100,” the CROWE study found. “Low-to-middle-income taxpayers would benefit the most. Moreover, the expansion would reduce the effective marginal tax rates (MTR) and thus provide work incentive for some low-to-middle-income taxpayers, although it would also raise the effective MTR and thus reduce the work incentive for some relatively high-income taxpayers.”

The state Senate and Assembly both passed the tax-cut package Thursday on largely party-line votes.

Gov. Tony Evers opposed the cuts, but has not said if he will sign or veto the bill.

Black Folks In Madison Object to Hiring of Hispanic Superintendent

Are we becoming a society where we will only be satisfied with people who are the same as us? This kind of enforced segregation is not good for anyone. What does it teach our kids?

A letter signed by 13 black community leaders in Madison expresses concerns about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s hiring of Matthew Gutiérrez to be its next superintendent.

The concerns include how much larger and more diverse MMSD is than Gutiérrez’s current Seguin Independent School District in Texas, student performance scores in Seguin and a “flawed, incomplete” process that “lacked substantive input from the Black Community.”

“We are dissatisfied with the process and how the input of the Black Community was minimized, if considered at all,” the letter reads. “Given the differences between Madison and Seguin, we expected a greater and broader background of experience, skills and abilities that would move the Madison District further in cultural competency, social justice, and academic outcomes for black students.

“Dr. Gutiérrez is woefully lacking in all of these categories.”

Put it in another light… would it be acceptable for a bunch of white folks to send a letter saying, “We are dissatisfied with the process and how the input of the White Community was minimized, if considered at all”? Hard to imagine.

I don’t know if Gutierrez is the right person or not. I presume that he is liberal enough for the folks on the Madison School Board. But it is clear that the folks who signed this letter would not be satisfied with anyone who is not of the same race.

Students Sue Principal Over Gun Shirts

It’s a shame that they have to go to court over this. Sadly, it’s necessary. Do you see how infringement of the 2nd Amendment leads to infringement of the 1st?

A pair of sophomores at Kettle Moraine High School sued their principal in federal court a day after she told them they had to cover the T-shirts they wore to school because the shirts depicted guns.

Their lawsuit, filed in federal court last week, contends the First Amendment protects their right to show support for the Second Amendment and asks a judge to order the school not to prevent them from wearing the shirts.

A week earlier, a middle-schooler sued his assistant principal in Neenah over the same issues, but a different gun-themed shirt.

Both cases come a few months after Markesan High School settled a similar case that made national headlines in 2018. After a judge granted the students a preliminary injunction, the principal agreed not to restrict Matthew Schoenecker from wearing shirts with guns or weapons if they don’t advocate or imply violent or illegal use of guns.

[…]

WI Carry Inc., a gun-rights advocacy group, supported all four plaintiffs. President Nik Clark said he was surprised Kettle Moraine and the Neenah middle school didn’t take notice of the outcome from Markesan.

“There is so much demonization of guns by public schools (these prohibitions as just one example) but also public schools SANCTIONED multiple walkouts the past couple years to call for gun control, but a kid can’t wear a shirt showing his gun pride?” Clark said in an email.

Assembly Amends Drunken Democrats Bill

Hopefully the State Senate will reject this altogether.

Assembly Republicans amended the bill Thursday, the last day of the chamber’s two-year session, to limit the extended hours to bars in 14 southeastern Wisconsin counties: Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, Rock, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Dane, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Columbia, Sheboygan, and Fond du Lac. Municipalities within those counties would have to pass a resolution allowing extended hours before they could take effect in those jurisdictions.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

2020 Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is at Sunset Farms in Allenton

The family at Sunset Farms, 6600 Sunset Drive in Allenton, will be hosting the 2020 Washington County Breakfast on the Farm on June 13.

Sunset Farms is a sixth-generation family farm. This will be the fourth time hosting Washington County’s Breakfast on the Farm; the last time was 2013.

A 2014 article by Dairy Professional Development featured Sunset Farms:

The farm employs 26 full-time and 6 part-time and seasonal workers, milks approximately 900 cows, has about 100 dry cows, raises most of their young stock and steers and crops 3,200 acres. Fifth- and sixth-generation family members, along with a few employees, own the farm.  Sunset Farms includes Albert and Mildred and their sons and wives, Ray and Anne, Dan and Ellen, Bernie and Cindy, and Paul and Sue. In addition, some of the next generation has joined the family corporation, including Karen Hughes who serves as herd manager; Carl, Ed and Dave Wolf; and Tim Baier.

“We continuously strive to improve our farm and the care of our cows. Cow comfort is what drives our modernization,” says herd manager Karen Hughes. The farm’s mission is to produce safe nutrition, create a good quality of life for employees as well as neighbors and friends, and ensure everyone involved enjoys their work together.

Breakfast on the Farm kicks off Saturday, June 13 at 6:30 a.m. and features all-you-can-eat pancakes served with scrambled eggs, applesauce, cheese, sausage, milk and coffee.

Activities include wagon ride to the farm, barn tours, petting zoo, pedal tractor pull, live music, Roden Barnyard Adventures, antique tractors, $1 Sundaes or Root Beer Floats   Tickets in advance – $6 Tickets at the door – $7 and Children 3 and under FREE.

West Bend Common Council selects District 8 alderwoman

On a vote of 6 – 1 the West Bend Common Council selected Meghann Kennedy as the new representative to fill the vacant aldermanic seat in District 8. Kennedy, who currently is part of the West Bend Park & Rec Commission, will fill the remaining term following the resignation of alderman Roger Kist.

Kennedy was one of four people who interviewed for the seat. Others vying for the seat included Aaron Zingsheim, Clifford Van Beek, and Alice M. Iaquinta. During a 5 p.m. interview before the Common Council, Kennedy spoke for 15 minutes outlining her work at Kohl’s Corporate where she meets with senior leadership, analyzes revenue and business trends.

Kennedy manages a multi-million-dollar business and specializes in digital processing. She has a strong background in math and analytical skills.

A resident of Villa Park for seven years, Kennedy said she wants to serve the community. “I’m good at working in collaboration,” she said. “I’ve already established relationships within government and City Hall and I look to hit the ground running.”

Questioned why she wanted to serve the community; Kennedy expressed a desire to “be part of the solution.” She described herself as a “fiscal conservative” who was interested in a “balanced budget.”

“I want to see the City grow effectively and efficiently,” she said.

Questioned about the current testing in the Villa Park subdivision and her knowledge about the gas emissions and the landfill, Kennedy mentioned she had discussions with the DNR and the city’s Doug Newman. “Villa Park is not only going to affect District 8 but the entire City,” said Kennedy. “We have good people in place and I look forward to working with consultants.”

“I’m excited to serve, it’s a good challenge and I’m interested in learning and help guide the future for families,” she said.

Kennedy received an endorsement from Mike Staral, who heads the City Park and Rec Committee.

After one round of ballot voting, Kennedy was announced the winner.

City Clerk Stephanie Justmann swore in Kennedy who immediately took her seat on the council. She will fill the remaining term in District 8, which will run to election day April 2021.

It was Friday, January 10, 2020 when alderman Roger Kist submitted his letter of resignation to the city clerk. Kist had served on the Common Council since he won election in April 2009.

Commerce Financial Holdings, Inc. in West Bend sold to Nicolet Bankshares, Inc.

Nicolet Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: NCBS) (“Nicolet”) and Commerce Financial Holdings, Inc. (“Commerce”) today jointly announce the execution of a definitive merger agreement, pursuant to which Nicolet will acquire Commerce and its wholly-owned banking subsidiary, Commerce State Bank (“Commerce Bank”).

Based on the financial results as of December 31, 2019, the combined company will have pro forma total assets of $4.3 billion, deposits of $3.6 billion and loans of $3.2 billion, as Commerce would represent approximately 16% of the combined company’s year-end assets.

Mike Daniels, President and CEO of Nicolet National Bank said, “We are excited to partner with great people who have a purpose very complementary to ours: to serve our customers, shareholders, and each other. Both Nicolet and Commerce are entrepreneurial organizations that know what it’s like to build a business from scratch. This quality allows us to relate to each other and our customers and will be a driving force as we move toward integrating our two cultures in the coming quarters.”

Bob Atwell, CEO and Chairman of Nicolet said, “In each merger, we have purposefully found partners who focus on serving customers and the community.  When we combine our resources and cultures, we can positively impact the community banking landscape of Wisconsin.  The geography isn’t as important as the characteristics of the communities and the passion of the people.”

Joe Fazio, CEO of Commerce said, “We have known Nicolet for a long time and we like their reputation for doing things the right way.  We are going to leverage the combined strengths of Commerce and Nicolet, which are our people and relationship-focused attitudes, to accelerate our growth.  The time feels right for the next chapter.”

Jack Enea, Chairman of Commerce said, “This merger creates an opportunity for shareholders to rapidly get to the next level of our strategic plan.  We have created a strong bank that centers on talented and experienced people.  That model will continue and expand through our combination with Nicolet.”

Transaction Information: Under the terms of the merger agreement, Nicolet will acquire Commerce with Nicolet being the surviving corporation. In the merger, Commerce shareholders shall receive 1.15 shares of Nicolet common stock for each share of Commerce stock. Based on Nicolet’s closing price of $72.32 as of February 14, 2020 the merger consideration is valued at approximately $129.6 million, which excludes Nicolet’s pre-existing ownership of Commerce shares.

The merger agreement provides for a cap and collar to potentially re-set the exchange ratio or change the mix of consideration should the Nicolet Common Stock Price, as defined in the merger agreement, rise above $82.00 per share, or fall below $62.00 per share.

The estimated transaction value is a 1.9 multiple of Commerce’s tangible book value as of December 31, 2019 and equates to approximately 18x Commerce’s 2019 after-tax income. Additional assumptions and metrics can be found with the attached Financial Supplement.

Leadership/Employee Information: Post-merger, Joe Fazio will join the Board of Directors of Nicolet Bankshares and Nicolet National Bank. Tom Hopp and Dave Borchardt, Commerce’s President and CFO/COO, respectively, will join Nicolet National Bank.  All customer-facing employees of Commerce are expected to stay on in the same capacity.

Approvals and Closing Date: The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.  It is subject to Commerce shareholder approval, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2020.  Upon consummation of the transaction, all branch offices of Commerce Bank are expected to open as Nicolet National Bank branches.

Primary election results in Washington County

Unofficial election results are in for two primary races in Washington County. The polls closed at 8 p.m. and while there was a predicted turnout of about 10 percent in Washington County it appears the turnout may have exceeded 20 percent.

There was a primary for Justice of the Supreme Court. Advancing to the April 7 election will be incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly and Jill J. Karofsky.

In Washington County Kelly received 75 percent of the vote while Karofsky received nearly 19 percent of the vote.

In the Slinger School District four candidates advance to the April election where there are two open seats on the Slinger School Board. Candidates advancing to the April 7 election include Bruce Hassler (Incumbent and Vice-President), Jen Novotny, Jody Strupp, and David Zukowski (Interim Incumbent).

A Community Forum will be held Tuesday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Slinger Middle School cafeteria. The forum is designed to provide community members an opportunity to meet the Slinger School Board candidates and ask questions about their candidacy.

April 7 is the election to determine who will gain the two seats on the Slinger School Board.

Canvassing for all results will occur before the end of the week.

Slinger and Hartford HS Snowboard teams finish season strong | By Delaney Braun

The Hartford and Slinger High School snowboard season has wrapped up with an excellent finish. All members on the girls’ team and six of the student athletes on the boys’ team competed in the toughest race yet at Mt. LaCrosse.

The state qualifying boys included Brady Jackson, Conor Schmitt, Gabe Kebbekus, Zak Raskin, Isaac DeWalt, Ethan Smith, and Brayden Wiedmeyer. All of the girls’ team qualified as well and the team was able to come home with some pretty amazing accomplishments.

Friday was met with some frustration and hard training from the racers to prepare them for the race the next day. The coaches were strategic with the courses and amount of time they required the racers to prepare.

The courses on Saturday were challenging. Marisa Reyes took second in boardercross, following Kallie Weyer in 11th and Ava Stortz in 15th and the girls took second overall.

For the boys boardercross Cole Rummel of West Bend took first along with Ethan Benedict in ninth and Brian Pomeroy in 15th. Ethan Smith and Brady Jackson took the 12th and 13th spots and Isaac DeWalt finished 17th.

Giant slalom was the next event. Reyes took an unfortunate fall during her race. That left Kallie Weyer scoring highest for Slinger in 12th place and Sophia Parkinson of Hartford taking 14th.

Ava Stortz had a nice finish in 17th. For the boys, Rummel again took fourth, Smith from Slinger took fifth. DeWalt finished 14th and Pomeroy in 15th. An honorable mention to Conor Schmitt, taking 22nd, beating all but one boy on the Slinger team that event.

Last but not least was Slalom. Reyes took ninth place and Weyer finished 15th. Rummel took fourth, Smith was seventh, Pomeroy 12th, and Jackson 14th. Benedict and DeWalt were close with Benedict taking 18th and DeWalt was 19th.

For the event team results, the Hartford and Slinger ladies took second in boardercross and third in giant slalom and slalom. That is a huge accomplishment for them. For the boys, they took fourth in all events.

Congratulations to the West Bend snowboard team for taking first place overall in boardercross. Overall results were third place for girls and fourth place for the boys.

Thank you to all the parents for the constant support this season, the racers really could not do it without you.

Socks in the Frying Pan coming to UWM at Washington County on Friday, March 6

Get your tickets today to Socks in the Frying Pan. Performance at UWM at Washington County on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. Don’t miss this award-winning trio from County Clare Ireland – the universal hub of Irish traditional music. Socks in the Frying Pan includes Aodán Coyne on guitar and vocals and the accomplished Hayes brothers — Shane on accordion and Fiachra on fiddle and banjo.

They blend Irish traditional melodies with their own personal flair, which has gained them critical acclaim and accolades including New Band of the Year by the Irish Music Association.

Public hearing on special assessment for property owners on 18th Avenue

There’s going to be a public hearing on March 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at West Bend City Hall. The special assessment is tied to the reconstruction of 18th Avenue between Vogt Drive and Decorah Road.

“The way the assessments are calculated are based on the frontage of the lot,” said City Engineer Max Maréchal. “We’ve established the cost of lineal foot of project and we multiply that by the frontage of each property. If your frontage is smaller than you will get a smaller assessment.”

According to preliminary numbers the total for the special assessment varies from $1,757.14 to $5,449.47 to over $16,000. That last increase is for an address that houses a non-profit organization on 18th Avenue.

“That will be up to the common council to address,” said Marechal. “This is what the public hearing is for so aspects can be addressed between the public and the council.”

The special assessment, overall, is based on an existing policy. “When there are new improvements the property that benefits directly the government entity has power to assess for the cost of installing those new improvements,” said Marechal.

Improvements on the 18th Avenue project include curb and gutter, streetlights, sidewalk, etc. About 85 properties are included in the special assessment.

Neighbors on 18th Avenue and Decorah Road question, if the entire community is using the streets and sidewalks, then why are only the property owners in that area charged with a special assessment to cover the cost of improvements?

Marechal went back to his statement of “property that benefits directly” from the work. “Direct benefit to the property,” he said. “Are there properties immediately adjacent that will benefit.”

Marechal said his office is receiving phone calls. “Most of the people understand what’s going on but we’re also open to answering any other inquiries,” he said.

The reconstruction project on 18th Avenue between Vogt Drive and Decorah Road was completed in October 2018.

The entire first portion of the project was less than a mile in length. There’s a second phase of the project waiting in the wings which will run from Vogt Drive south to Paradise Drive.

“Obviously we will follow the same process as the first phase,” said Marechal. “Which means we will go to the City common council and ask them whether they intend to assess for new improvements; will that directly benefit those properties or not and we’ll go from there.”

Slinger HS student wins design contest for Drug Treatment Court | By Todd Martens

The Washington County Drug Treatment Court Team invited students from Washington County high schools to submit designs for its county-wide Drug Treatment Court logo design competition.  Students from five County high schools submitted over 30 logo designs for the team’s consideration.

The team appreciates all the hard work students put into submitting designs which reflect this important new program.  The goal of Drug Treatment Court is to help persons with substance abuse problems get sober, stay sober and rebuild their lives.

After careful consideration and considerable debate, the team chose the design submitted by Slinger High School student Morgan Rogacki.  Congratulations to Morgan and thanks to her for submitting a design which we felt best embodied the mission and spirit of Drug Treatment Court.  The logo will be used in Court program documents, Court letterhead, and certificates given to Court participants.

The decision was a difficult one.  The winning design received six votes, and the runner up received five.  Both designs were outstanding.  The team would like to specially thank and acknowledge the design which came in second place—it was submitted by Germantown High School student Hannah Hermann.

We appreciate all the hard work put in by students to design Drug Treatment Court logos.  The designs were all excellent, and we thank you!

Washington County Drug Treatment Court Judge Todd K. Martens will recognize Morgan Rogacki and her contribution to the Washington County Drug Treatment Court in a ceremony during the Slinger School Board meeting at 7 p.m. February 24, 2020.

Downtown West Bend establishment may have cracked the recipe for Dick’s Pizza

The Inferno Bar & Grill, 140 N. Main Street, in West Bend thinks it may have cracked the recipe for Dick’s Pizza.

In the 1980s Dick’s Pizza was an institution in West Bend. The original Dick’s Pizza dates to the 1950s when Dick Turnquist opened on north Main Street near where West Bend Tap & Tavern is located.

“In 1977 Turnquist started building the new restaurant on 18th Avenue but he was killed in a car crash three weeks before even opening,” said owner Earl Richter about the crash on Paradise Drive when Turnquist swerved to avoid hitting a dog.

An employee at the restaurant, Paul Schloemer became the new owner and ran the business for three years before Dave Wolf bought the pizza place in March 1980. Twenty-one years later in December 2001 Richter bought the business.

“We really grew the sales within the first three or four years,” said Richter. “My sales were probably fifty percent higher than anything they’d ever done but all of a sudden one restaurant after another started opening in this town.”

Neighbors remembered a number of things about Dick’s Pizza; from the thin crust to the spicy tomato sauce to the hot cheese.

The Inferno Bar & Grill will have pizza samples available on Thursday, February 20 starting at 3 p.m. through dinner.

Sample pizzas will be made on the spot so they stay warm and fresh.  Everyone that comes in can get a free slice of pizza.  It will be served party style, so it is cut into small squares.

Pizza will be available for sale with a $3 off pizza special every Thursday.  The full pizza menu is below. It also includes the soup of the day and chili options.  You can also combo the soups with sandwiches for discounts, and there is a “half a sandwich/cup of soup” option.

The Inferno is also contracting for delivery. For those who want to call in and get food to go –  (262) 353-9016.

Tax Cut Heads to Evers’ Desk

Remember that we do not have a tax surplus… yet. We have a projection that says that we will have a surplus at the end of the budget next summer. Bearing that in mind, this is a good bill. It takes a projection that says that the state is collecting more taxes than it needs and reduces the taxes accordingly. If the projection is wrong and we head into deficit, then they can adjust taxes the other direction. To my point in a column a few weeks ago, however, this is not spending money we don’t have. It isn’t spending anything at all. It is simply having the government collect LESS so that it does not run as much of a surplus over the term of the current budget.

The tax cut bill would would deliver an average reduction of $106 for most qualifying filers. Married couples who file jointly would see an average cut of $145; all other filers would see an average reduction of $81. The bill also would reduce taxes for manufacturers by nearly $45 million by exempting their machinery and tools from property taxes and trim state debt by $100 million.

This is a good bill. It is unfortunate that Governor Evers will likely veto is so that the government can overcharge for their services and spend more.

Kelly and Karofsky Advance

The results exactly reflects where Wisconsin is… divided electorate, Dane County liberal turnout balanced against WOW Counties conservative turnout. Turnout for the general election should be much larger, but the patter remains.

Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly and Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky will advance to the April 7 election to compete for a 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Kelly and Karofsky, both judges, were the top two vote-getters in Tuesday’s statewide primary, besting Marquette Law School professor Ed Fallone by significant margins. The results pit Kelly, the conservative-backed incumbent who has served on the court since 2016, against a Dane County local, backed by liberals, who was first elected as a circuit court judge in 2017.

With 97% of the precincts in, Kelly, of North Prairie, got the most votes, at about 50%, while Karofsky finished second, with 37%. Fallone was a distant third, at 13% support.

MyVote Wisconsin Voting Site is Down

Goodness… could the WEC be any more dysfunctional? This is a basic service.

An online system that allows voters to look up their polling location experienced problems Tuesday as spring primary voters went to the polls.

The problem with MyVote Wisconsin stemmed from a server that crashed and had to be taken offline, Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said. The site was crashing for some visitors, while others experienced long delays as it retrieved information.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the Elections Commission was in the process of configuring a replacement server.

The Elections Commission does have a backup polling location service, gettothepolls.com, for voters and clerks to access while they fix the problem.

“If you need to look up your polling place, continue to use the backup site,” Magney said. “If you need to find out if you’re registered to vote, go to MyVote.”

Vote for Justice Dan Kelly

It’s election day in Wisconsin! In my city, the only thing on the ballot if the primary for Wisconsin Supreme Court. It’s important that you get out and vote for Dan Kelly. It’s so important that I even put on pants, emerged from the basement, and squinted at the giant ball in the bright in the sky to go meet the guy.

Evers is Coy about Coveted Presidential Endorsement

Heh

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is staying neutral in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Evers said Wednesday he was open to making an endorsement but not until after the state’s April 7 presidential primary. He said withholding an endorsement boosts the chances of Wisconsin’s primary being relevant.

“I’m going to yell. I’m tired and I’m angry.”

That could be the Dems’ slogan this yer.

Committee Democrats railed against the decision, saying it will now be years before the existing prison closes, if it does at all. Rep. Evan Goyke of Milwaukee, who spearheaded the 2018 bill, shouted that it could be years before the prison closes. He was so loud that Nygren told him another unnamed committee member had asked if Nygren could turn his microphone down, which only made Goyke angrier.

“I’m shouting because I’m emotional about it. I worked my tail off on this bill. I’m not going to apologize for being emotional, for being loud,” Goyke said. “It’s been too damn long that we haven’t acted to close Lincoln Hills. I’m going to shout. I’m going to yell. I’m tired and I’m angry.”

Wisconsin Elections Commission Is a Disgrace

Their incompetence is only matched by their arrogance.

Members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Wednesday voted unanimously to delay enforcing a state law on the books since 2011 that they argued could sow confusion and open the state up to an Iowa-style election meltdown during Wisconsin’s presidential primary in April.

With a 6-0 vote, both Democratic and Republican commissioners scrapped a plan for local elections officials to send two separate ballots to all absentee Wisconsin voters — at least 81,000 people — ahead of the statewide April 7 election, even while acknowledging their action is likely violating state law. The April 7 election features a presidential primary, state Supreme Court general election and other local races.

“The law here is very clear, but the law isn’t going to be easy for our clerks to follow,” WEC chairman Dean Knudson, a Republican, said. “In following the law, there’s at least going to be inconvenience and confusion, and, at the worst, there could be chaos.”

Justice Dan Kelly at CSCWC Meeting Tonight in West Bend

Looks like fun

Washington Co., WI – Common Sense Citizens of Washington County will host Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly at the Wednesday, February 12 meeting. Justice Kelly is on the February 18 primary election ballot.

The meeting is at the West Bend Moose Lodge, 1721 Chestnut Street, and will begin at 7 p.m. Any candidates on the February 18 primary ballot, or the April 7 ballot are encouraged to attend the meeting and introduce themselves.

Evers calls a special session to waste money we don’t have

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

Thanks to a robust economy, Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau has projected that Wisconsin will collect more taxes than the state budgeted by the end of the biennial budget next summer. The news prompted Gov. Tony Evers to call the Legislature into a special session to waste money we do not have on stuff we do not need.

The state passed the biennial budget last year that is in effect from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2021. Those dates are important. The budget estimates tax collections based on the tax policies and sets sending based on the estimated taxes. Periodically, the state’s LFB will evaluate actual tax collections as compared to the budget estimates and forecast whether the state will collect more or less than the budget estimated.

Still awake? Hang in there. In January, the LFB estimated that the state will collect $620.2 million more in taxes than the budget estimated. If the LFB is right, that would mean that the state would generate a $620.2 million surplus at the end of the budget – in July of 2021. In other words, the state does not have $620.2 million in extra cash stashed in Governor Evers’ desk. The state might have $620.2 million in additional money sometime next summer – if the LFB’s forecast is correct.

The LFB does a really good job, but it is not a Delphic Oracle with divine sight. It makes estimates based on the economic data available. This changes, however, in unpredictable ways. For example, if the United States elects a communist to be president this year, it is likely that our economy will enter a deep recession, thus undermining tax collections in Wisconsin and any chance of a surplus.

From this basis, we must evaluate Governor Evers’ plan on both a financial and moral basis. Governor Evers wants the Legislature to pass bills to spend $250 million of the projected surplus on government schools. From a financial perspective, it is outright mismanagement to spend money that state government does not have. Evers wants to spend money based on a single financial projection made three weeks ago about where the state’s finances might end up in 17 months. What if the economy shifts and the surplus does not happen? What if the LFB just got it wrong? If the Legislature votes to spend the money and the surplus does not materialize, the money is still spent. They will have to find another way to pay for it.

On a moral basis, we already had a debate about the budget through our elected representatives. Out of that process came the spending and taxes that we, the people, collectively thought was necessary to fund state government. Evers already proposed that we spend more. The Legislature passed a budget and Evers signed it. If there is a surplus, there are only three things that should be done with it: pay down debt, save it in the rainy day fund, or return it to the people.

Paying down debt is never a bad thing, but if the state is just going to replace it with more debt and spending, then it is counterproductive. Thanks to years of good fiscal management when Republicans controlled all of state government, the state’s rainy day fund is already adequately funded. That leaves the last option: Give it back to the people. The state overcharged for its services and should give the people their change.

Finally, it is not just that Governor Evers wants to spend money we do not yet have. It is that he wants to pour it into the bottomless pit of government schools for no benefit. The governor lists 14 spending items directed at government schools from general state aid to grants. Nowhere does he even pretend that the additional spending will improve educational outcomes for the kids. Even Evers appears to know that more spending will not result in better education.

In fact, Wisconsin spends more on government education than at any time in its history, and yet, test scores and student performance continue their steady decline. It is a travesty that liberals like Governor Evers continue to spread the lie that more money leads to a better education because it distracts from advancing policies that will actually improve education for our children. Governor Evers’ spending plan is a boon for government workers, special interest groups, and school construction companies, but it once again leaves our kids behind.

The Legislature should ignore Evers’ folly and close the special session as soon as it opens. If the surplus does actually materialize as the LFB projects, then the Legislature should return it to the people.

Evers calls a special session to waste money we don’t have

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s part of it:

Finally, it is not just that Governor Evers wants to spend money we do not yet have. It is that he wants to pour it into the bottomless pit of government schools for no benefit. The governor lists 14 spending items directed at government schools from general state aid to grants. Nowhere does he even pretend that the additional spending will improve educational outcomes for the kids. Even Evers appears to know that more spending will not result in better education.

In fact, Wisconsin spends more on government education than at any time in its history, and yet, test scores and student performance continue their steady decline. It is a travesty that liberals like Governor Evers continue to spread the lie that more money leads to a better education because it distracts from advancing policies that will actually improve education for our children. Governor Evers’ spending plan is a boon for government workers, special interest groups, and school construction companies, but it once again leaves our kids behind.

UW Jacks up Tuition Amidst Massive Cost Overruns

Remember this waste the next time someone complains about UW being “underfunded.”

The governing body of the University of Wisconsin System approved tuition increases for some students, as well as tens of millions of dollars worth of construction cost overruns, at its meeting on Friday.

The UW Board of Regents accepted budget increases for two UW-Madison construction projects: a $25.7 million bump for a dairy plant and research center project at Babcock Hall and an extra $7 million for a new meat science lab.

Regent Bob Atwell said killing the Babcock project would be worse than increasing its budget, but he still expressed some reservations.

“(The Babcock) project was launched and approved in 2012, and it won’t be completed for eight or nine years after it was initiated, and the total cost will be over 100 percent more than the initial approval,” he said.

In 2012, the project’s estimated cost was about $32 million. Now, it’s over $72 million.

Thank goodness the Republicans froze tuition, eh?

Regents also agreed to raise tuition for some out-of-state University of Wisconsin undergraduates, starting in the fall.

Out-of-state students at UW-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater and UW-Platteville will pay between less than 1 percent and almost 3 percent more.

Tuition for in-state students has been frozen since 2013.

For the record, it’s $72 million for a building to educate about 150 kids.

When the Babcock Hall project is completed, students will learn in a state-of-the-art facility. The average enrollment in UW-Madison’s food-science department is 101 undergraduates and between 35 and 40 graduate students, said Rankin, chairman of the department,

Don Pridemore Runs for 13th State Senate District

This is Big Fitz’ seat. He is running for the 5th Congressional District, so it’s an open run. Don Pridemore was a staunch conservative in the Assembly during Scott Walker’s first term and would be a welcome addition to the State Senate. Here is Pridemore’s press release.

West Bend School District needs a new superintendent

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

West Bend School District Superintendent Don Kirkegaard has resigned after less than two years in the job and plans to return to his newly built house in South Dakota. Although he has not shared any career plans, one might posit that the vacancy for superintendent in his old school district may have factored into his decision. The folks in the West Bend School District thank him for his short time in our community and wish him the best. The School Board now must look for the district’s fifth superintendent in four years.

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The search for a new superintendent comes during a time of turmoil in the school district. After Superintendent Ted Nietzke resigned in 2016, the School Board hired a strong replacement, Erik Olsen. 2016 is also when the School Board began its turn to the left when Tiffany Larson was elected. 2017 completed the turn with the election of Joel Ongert, Nancy Justman, and Tonnie Schmidt. With a solid majority, Superintendent Olson was quickly paid a handsome severance to leave. Interim Superintendent Laura Jackson served well until Kirkegaard was hired by the board in 2018 after an expensive search.

Through these years, the school district has burned through four or five HR directors and business managers, ended innovation like the charter school, abandoned merit pay for teachers, stunted community and stakeholder communication, roiled the electorate with a poorly thought-out referendum that failed, and generally regressed from the gains made a few years ago. The results have been distressing as student performance has been stagnant and much of the community is disengaged and disinterested.

Meanwhile, the school district is facing some serious challenges. Due to a general demographic shift, enrollment is declining in the district and is projected to continue to decline for the foreseeable future. A district that once had 7,000 students will likely have less than 5,000 within this decade. This will mean substantially less money and the need to downsize personnel and facilities. The district is also facing competitive pressure with the expansion of school choice and the maturity of online and home-school learning options. These are structural pressures that are not unique to the West Bend School District. They are systemic and unavoidable.

Taking all of this into account, the next superintendent of the West Bend School District needs to be a strong, transformational, visionary change agent. It is exponentially more difficult to properly manage an organization through a contraction than through an expansion. The leader must be a phenomenal communicator who can motivate employees and build support with all of the stakeholders in the district. The West Bend School District does not need a caretaker or a toady. The district needs a strong leader to guide it through a transformation to improve educational outcomes, infuse modern innovations, and reconnect with the community while also consolidating and economizing personnel and facilities. The folks in the West Bend School District deserve a better, if smaller, school district that reflects the values of the community it serves.

To find a superintendent that matches all of those criteria will not be easy, especially given the recent turnover in the position. To do so, the West Bend School Board should follow the lead of the University of Wisconsin System and consider candidates who do not come from the government-education industrial complex. A school district superintendent must have a vision for education, but must also have skills in budgeting, contract negotiation, public relations, personnel management, finance, facilities management, organizational behavior, recruitment, marketing, legal, and more. These are skills that most seasoned, successful business executives have acquired and are not unique to people who have spent their career in education.

Finally, we must remember that this process will be conducted in the midst of an election where three incumbent school board members are on the ballot who have overseen the dysfunction of the district for the previous three years. As a sign of the disengagement of the community from the district, only one challenger stepped up, but she is a true conservative who is eager to set the district back on a path to success. Jody Geenen had three kids graduate from the district and has been an active, involved, conservative member of the community.

Electing Jody Geenen to the School Board will not only put a vocal taxpayer steward on the board, it will signal to the superintendent candidates that the citizens of the West Bend School District are ready to accept progress and change. Furthermore, Geenen would be in a position to invite the public into the process of choosing a new superintendent with a transparency that has been so sorely lacking from the West Bend School Board.

The West Bend School District needs strong leadership that can lead it through the next decade. The voters can begin by electing Jody Geenen to the School Board. Then the School Board will need to recruit and select a transformational leader as the next superintendent.

Governor Wants to Piss Away $250 Million

Sigh… it’s never enough. He doesn’t even pretend to offer a plan for how dumping this in the government school system would actually improve education for a single kid.

MADISON (WKOW) — Surrounded by educators and school administrators Thursday morning, Gov. Tony Evers announced he would call a special session to focus on education.

The session is scheduled for Feb. 11 at 1 p.m.

The governor wants the state Senate and Assembly to use $250 million of projected revenue surplus to give more money to schools and take the pressure off of local referendums.