Boots & Sabers

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Category: Politics – Wisconsin

Evers to Dole out Billions of Dollars Without Any Oversight

Sure. No chance for corruption or misappropriation there. Uh huh. I don’t know why we bother having checks and balances or oversight of anything. Why don’t we just let Evers have the same exclusive control of all government spending?

Gov. Tony Evers outlined his initial plans on Monday for some of the roughly $3 billion in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds headed to Wisconsin, saying hundreds of millions of dollars will flow to small businesses, infrastructure and continued pandemic response. The governor also vetoed a bill on Monday that would have given GOP state lawmakers more say over how the federal funds are spent.

 

Wisconsin is set to receive about $5.7 billion under the latest federal pandemic stimulus, with $3.2 billion earmarked for state government. The remainder of the funds will go to local governments and non-governmental programs.

 

Speaking at a small business in Milwaukee, Evers said he plans to spend $600 million on supporting small businesses, $500 million on continued pandemic response, $200 million on infrastructure and $50 million on aid for the Wisconsin tourism industry. The governor said his administration is working to get the funds disbursed as quickly as possible.

 

“At the end of the day, we’re still battling a pandemic and all the uncertainty that comes with that — workers and business owners are still filled with worry, families are still struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

 

Evers said the money dedicated to infrastructure development will include a “significant investment” in broadband expansion, something he and GOP lawmakers have agreed should be a major priority. The governor said announcements about which specific programs will receive funding in each broad category are to come. He noted the new business loans will “build on” an existing pandemic grant program that has sent money to about 53,000 businesses in Wisconsin.

DNR Officials Dine on Illegal Caviar

Stunning breach of the public’s trust, arrogance, and lack of ethics. And this from the DNR, which is legendary for holding citizens to task for the smallest of infractions.

Prosecutors have charged Ryan Koenigs, a top sturgeon expert at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), with obstructing an investigation after he alleged that his workers were using valuable fish eggs for a scientific study, when instead some of those eggs were being taken to caviar processors.

 

The DNR confirmed to Fox News on Monday that Koenigs was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 11 following an internal investigation, but would not comment futher.

Hunters and fishermen who take part in the annual “sturgeon spearing season” near Oshkosh can keep the fish and their eggs, provided that they don’t intend to sell them, according to a report from the Associated Press. But workers with the DNR — workers that Koenigs was overseeing — would sometimes ask they could collect the eggs from the fishermen as part of a fertility study.

 

Investigators with the DNR, together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, eventually became aware that some of these fish eggs were being placed into coolers marked for caviar processing.

 

Koenigs initially denied any wrongdoing, and even denied ever speaking with the caviar processor, despite phone records that indicated he had. He later claimed that sometimes his workers will transport the eggs to the caviar processor at the request of the fishermen, and that sometimes the processor will provide the workers with caviar as a gift.

 

Another supervisor told investigators that the processors had provided caviar for the department “for years,” according to the AP. The department ate that caviar at meetings, he added.

 

Earlier this month, Koenigs finally admitted his employees took sturgeon eggs to caviar processors only after they were done using them for fertility research.

Conservatives must remain vigilant in local elections

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

April 6 offers all legal adult Wisconsinites another opportunity to head to the polls to choose who will control thousands of school boards, city councils, courtrooms, county boards, and other important local government bodies. These elections are always important, but the performance of government during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important they are. From our schools to our local health officials, we have seen just how incompetent, authoritarian, and heroic they can be.

 

The importance of local elections has not been lost on the state’s liberals and big-government advocates. During the Walker era, when the political left was ineffectual at the state level, they began a concerted effort to recruit candidates for local elections. There efforts have paid off all over Wisconsin with left-leaning candidates getting elected even in some of the most conservative parts of the state.

 

There is nothing wrong with recruiting, organizing, training, encouraging, and funding local candidates. It is not a conspiracy or anything untoward. In fact, it is incredibly smart and laudable. Not only have the liberals managed to advance their ideology throughout Wisconsin, but they have also created a farm league of candidates to run for state or national office.

 

Conservatives are behind the game. There have been pockets local organization, but nothing on the scale of liberals. Without conservative organizations vetting candidates, conservative voters need be extra careful when voting.

 

[…]

 

Conservatives throughout the state must follow the liberals’ lead and begin recruiting, training, encouraging, and funding fellow conservatives to run for local offices. Winning elections does not happen by accident. It happens after a lot of work. The work does not end after the election. Conservatives must then support conservative elected leaders when they govern according to their convictions.

 

Work. Determination. Grit. There is no other path to success. Get to work, conservatives. Local government matters.

Kids need state superintendent who values them more than the unions

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

The COVID-19 pandemic and our policy responses to it will have long-lasting effects throughout our society. Perhaps none will feel those impacts more severely than the children who were abandoned by our government-educational complex. On April 6, Wisconsin’s voters will choose the next superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction and the choice could not be clearer.

 

The two candidates to lead the DPI are similar in many respects. Both candidates have spent their careers progressing through schools to leadership positions. Both candidates are highly educated with doctorates in educational leadership. Both candidates are lifelong Democrats and believe that many of the answers to the challenges facing education can be solved with more taxpayer money.

 

While the two candidates are similar in many respects, it is where they differ that makes Deb Kerr the best choice for our children.

 

The most pressing issue confronting education right now is the fact that too many government school districts are refusing to return to in-person education despite the overwhelming evidence that it can be done safely. Many schools around the world have remained open throughout the pandemic or only closed for a short time without significant issues. The evidence is clear that COVID-19 is not a significant threat to the vast majority of those in schools — students and staff. Despite this clear evidence, some government school districts refuse to fully open under withering fire from the teachers and their unions. The damage to our kids’ education, mental health, and futures cannot be understated.

 

On this issue, Dr. Deb Kerr has made it clear that all government schools should reopen immediately. Her opponent, Dr. Jill Underly, is toeing the line of the state teachers union (which has endorsed her and poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into supporting her) in throwing up multiple conditions that must be met before those schools can open. Kerr is following the science and prioritizing kids’ lives and futures. Underly is determined to use the crisis as a political wedge to gain more concessions for the unions.

 

The second paramount issue on which the candidates differ is on school choice. Here again, Kerr is prioritizing children and their futures while Underly is defending the union’s priorities.

 

The pandemic pulled back the mask of our state’s education infrastructure to reveal some glaring inequities. Some of the government schools stepped up and responded heroically with a swift and thoughtful shift to virtual learning and an equally swift move back to hybrid and in-person education when the evidence supported it. Other government schools — particularly some of the state’s largest districts that serve economically disadvantaged communities — utterly failed at virtual education and are still resisting a return to in-person education.

 

The fact that some schools performed better than others through the pandemic is manifest. The powerlessness of some parents to make get their kids into a school that is actually providing an education is a calamity. Some families were able to support their children’s education throughout the pandemic with relative ease. They have the time and money to support a virtual learning environment or move their children to a private or parochial school that is providing a higher-quality education.

 

Many families, however, are not able to fill the gap left by their failing schools or have the means to send their children to a successful school. When schools have utterly failed at virtual education and refuse to reopen their doors, the parents are left with few choices other than to watch their children slip further into the achievement gap as kids in other districts thrive. This is precisely the problem that school choice helps remedy. School choice provides the financial means for all families to choose the best educational option for their children, whether it be the local government school or a private option. School choice prioritizes children and education over propping up failed government institutions. Deb Kerr is a vocal supporter of school choice and has worked outside of the government school system. While she supports government schools as a vitally important part of our educational system, she recognizes that families need choices when that system fails. Rich families have always had choices. School choice enables poorer families to have the same options.

 

Jill Underly is a vocal opponent of school choice. She has stated unequivocally that she opposes school choice and would advocate for more regulations of the private schools that participate. Even though Underly chose to send her own children to a local parochial school to avoid an underperforming government school, she would deny that choice to families of lesser financial means.

 

The pandemic is groaning to an end, but it has highlighted some stark gaps in our government school system. Deb Kerr is the best candidate to begin to close some of those gaps.

Evers Quietly Moves the Goal Post

It doesn’t really matter since he’s just going to keep issuing them for as long as he likes. Whither the Supreme Court?

MADISON —  Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration messed up the expiration date on the governor’s latest state mask mandate and then quietly “fixed” the error, an Empower Wisconsin review of executive order drafts finds.

 

While legislative legal experts say the governor didn’t violate the law or any administrative rules, his team’s surreptitious change is another example of a secretive administration that repeatedly has tried to govern unilaterally.

 

On Feb. 4, Evers issued the latest in a series of executive orders that included the statewide mask mandate — about an hour after the Legislature passed a resolution ending his previous mask mandate and his power to issue ceaseless emergency declarations.

 

The new order is supposed to expire on April 5, 60 days from its issuance. But Team Evers screwed up, copy and pasting March 20, the expiration date of his previous mask mandate, in the new order.

 

They later realized the mistake and edited it to correct the date. They did so without alerting the Legislature or the general public, with the exception of subsequently adding the word “Corrected” on the original press release. The updated version states,

Evers’ Big Lie

Well, one of them, anyway.

Perspective by Dan O’Donnell

 

It’s not just that Governor Evers is lying about why his Department of Health Services (DHS) undercounted COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes by nearly 1,000; it’s that he is so obviously and provably lying.

 

When asked this week why DHS officials quietly upped the number of nursing home deaths from 1,956 to 2,927, Evers rather perplexingly claimed that state investigators simply couldn’t figure out where thousands of COVID victims lived.

 

“Our local folks got lots of death certificates and death investigations that just had a street name on it,” he said.  “How do we know that is a nursing home?”

 

This just isn’t true.  If it were, then the State of Wisconsin hasn’t managed to find a home address for a staggering 37% of the people who died of COVID-19 over the past year.  That’s either terrifying incompetence or, far more likely, sickening dishonesty.

Evers Approves New Casino

Good.

MADISON – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers gave approval Wednesday for the Ho-Chunk Nation to build a $405 million casino in Beloit, clearing one of the Wisconsin tribe’s major hurdles for the long-sought project.

 

Last year the administration of then-President Donald Trump approved the project. The Democratic governor announced Wednesday he was siding with that decision, allowing it to move forward.

 

Wisconsin governors have sole say on casino projects, and Republicans who control the Legislature don’t have an easy way to block them if they oppose them.

 

The complex just west of Interstate 39/90 would feature a casino, convention center, 300-room hotel and 40,000-square-foot indoor water park on 73 acres, according to the tribe and government officials. It would create 1,500 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs.

While I understand the social ills from gambling, that ship has sailed. Our country is saturated with gambling establishments – both brick and mortar and online. Wisconsin might as well benefit from the jobs and economic benefits.

I will reiterate, again, that Wisconsin needs to abandon it’s racist gambling laws. Right now, only the Native American Tribes are permitted to open casinos. If we are going to have casinos all over the state, why can’t Wisconsinites of other races and ethnicities operate casinos too? We already have gambling in Wisconsin. Let’s let any Wisconsinite reap the benefits instead of just the costs.

Evers Budget Includes Over $1.1 Billion in Tax and Fee Increases

Nothing says, “I care about Wisconsinites who lost their livelihoods in a pandemic” like jacking up taxes.

In summary, the changes included in the Governor’s budget would increase net taxes by $1,020,728,000 ($464,824,000 in 2021-22 and $555,904,000 in 2022-23) and would increase net fees by $17,162,700 ($7,172,900 in 2021-22 and $9,989,800 in 2022-23). In addition, it is estimated that measures included in AB 68/SB 111 to enhance the collection of current taxes would generate an additional $78,031,700 ($38,745,800 in 2021-22 and $39,285,900 in 2022-23).

Legislature Passes Series of Bills

Let’s take a look:

Under one vaccination bill, state and local health officers would not be allowed to require the public to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Agree. This is a personal choice.

A second bill would bar employers from requiring their workers to receive vaccinations.

Disagree. A private employer should be able to require employees to be vaccinated if it is necessary. For example, requiring it for people to work in a meat plant may be more necessary than in a factory.

Another proposal considered Tuesday would require Evers to submit a plan to the Legislature setting a timeline for the return of state employees to in-person work.

Agree, but… we should also take a serious look at how many workers could remain virtual forever. Not only would this reduce the expense of physical locations, but it would also open the jobs to people anywhere in Wisconsin. If the position is virtual, there’s no need to live near the government office.

Another pandemic-related plan approved by the Assembly on Tuesday would prohibit local health officials from closing or limiting gatherings in places of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agree. 1st Amendment and whatnot.

Both the Assembly and the Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would give the Legislature more control over spending Wisconsin’s share of the recently-approved $1.9 trillion federal relief package, although the votes could end up being largely symbolic.

Agree. Checks and Balances

One of the plans, which already passed the state Assembly, would let bars and restaurants sell cocktails to go if the drinks are equipped with a “tamper-evident seal.”

Agree. Other states have done this and I haven’t seen any indication that it has been a problem. Let’s face it… this is not how drunk drivers get their drunk on. But if someone is picking up a fish fry to go, they can get that old fashioned to take home instead of drinking it at the bar before driving home.

Senators also passed another bill that would let retailers make online or telephone sales of alcoholic beverages to be picked up by the customer at parking spaces that are part of the retail licensed premises.

I didn’t realize this was illegal, but agree. It shouldn’t be.

 

 

 

The Fight for Local Control

I received this tip in email. It illustrates something that is going on all over Wisconsin. For several years, we have seen an organized, grassroots efforts by liberals to take control of local school boards and units of governments. In liberal areas, they just run as liberals. Simple enough. In conservative areas, they pretend to be conservatives to get elected. They lie or hide. There is a glaring instance of this in the City of West Bend.

A couple of years ago, there was a concerted push by left-leaning and pro-government people to take over West Bend’s Common Council. They didn’t do anything illegal. They were just organized, funded, and energetic. At the same time, conservatives were lazy, complacent, and distracted. The result is that conservative West Bend now has a left-leaning city government. I wrote about it last year. In particular, the council is dominated by ex-government union employees who think the best government is the one that serves the employees.

One of the exceptions is District 8 Alderwoman, Meghann Kennedy. Kennedy was appointed to the seat a year ago after Roger Kist resigned for health reasons. She’s a rock star conservative who really annoys the lefties on the council and in city government by asking real questions, opposing tax increases, and voting conservative.

Well, Kennedy is up for reelection. Challenging her is a guy named Cliff Van Beek. Van Beek was born and raised on the east side of Milwaukee, worked in government, and brought his politics with him when he moved to West Bend. He is endorsed by West Bend Firefighter’s union and it’s clear why. Here’s a bit of background on Van Beek:

1. CLIFF VAN BEEK SPENT TIME ON THE TOM AMENT PENSION BOARD AS A MEMBER AND LABOR UNION LEADER.

 

https://archive.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/44069847.html/

 

2. ROBERT OTT (WHO RESIGNED OVER PENSION SCANDAL INVOLVMENT) IS ENDORSING CLIFF VAN BEEK

 

https://archive.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/44069847.html/

 

3.  CLIFF VAN BEEK WAS AN AFSME LABOR UNION LEADER

 

https://www.washingtoncountyinsider.com/four-people-file-paperwork-to-fill-vacancy-in-west-bend-aldermanic-district-8/

 

4. CLIFF VAN BEEK RECIEVED $190,000 “BACKDROP” PAYMENT FROM PENSION SCANDAL

 

https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2017/06/06/the-400-million-pension-problem/

 

No wonder the unions support Van Beek. He has a lifetime of experience fleecing taxpayers for the benefit of government employees and their unions. Van Beek and his supporters are now running around town telling people that he is a conservative and mouthing all of the right words to get elected in a conservative community. He claims to be a “fiscal conservative” to anyone who will listen. Don’t be fooled. There’s only one conservative in that race and it’s Meghann Kennedy.

I expect that with a little digging, we would be able to uncover this scenario 100 or more times across Wisconsin. This is how the Left is taking over our schools, cities, villages, and counties – one seat at a time. They are organized and intentional in playing the long game. As we have seen, some of these liberals who get elected to local government then use it as a platform to run for higher office.

Conservatives need to be organized and fight for every local seat or we will cede the state. The ideological battle isn’t being fought in Madison. It’s being fought right down the street. And that’s where conservatives are losing.

Kids need state superintendent who values them more than the unions

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

Despite this clear evidence, some government school districts refuse to fully open under withering fire from the teachers and their unions. The damage to our kids’ education, mental health, and futures cannot be understated.

 

On this issue, Dr. Deb Kerr has made it clear that all government schools should reopen immediately. Her opponent, Dr. Jill Underly, is toeing the line of the state teachers union (which has endorsed her and poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into supporting her) in throwing up multiple conditions that must be met before those schools can open. Kerr is following the science and prioritizing kids’ lives and futures. Underly is determined to use the crisis as a political wedge to gain more concessions for the unions.

 

The second paramount issue on which the candidates differ is on school choice. Here again, Kerr is prioritizing children and their futures while Underly is defending the union’s priorities.

 

The pandemic pulled back the mask of our state’s education infrastructure to reveal some glaring inequities. Some of the government schools stepped up and responded heroically with a swift and thoughtful shift to virtual learning and an equally swift move back to hybrid and in-person education when the evidence supported it. Other government schools — particularly some of the state’s largest districts that serve economically disadvantaged communities — utterly failed at virtual education and are still resisting a return to in-person education.

 

[…]

 

The pandemic is groaning to an end, but it has highlighted some stark gaps in our government school system. Deb Kerr is the best candidate to begin to close some of those gaps.

Dentists Now Allowed to Administer COVID Vaccine

Excellent.

Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill into law Monday that allows dentists to administer COVID-19 and flu vaccines in Wisconsin, legislation aimed at getting more shots into arms amid the waning COVID-19 pandemic.

[…]

The Republican-authored bill allows dentists to administer the vaccines if they complete certain requirements, such as completing an eight-hour course of study and training on vaccine storage, protocols, administration technique, emergency procedures and record keeping, as well as have liability insurance.

About 3,500 dentists in Wisconsin could be enlisted to help vaccinate. The bill signing came on the same day more than 2 million more people between the ages of 16 and 64 with preexisting conditions became eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Assembly Passes Bill to Deregulate Braiding

I completely support this bill. There are hundreds of other certification/licensing requirements that need to be revised or discarded. They create an artificial barrier to the market with marginal value.

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -A bipartisan bill passed in the Wisconsin Assembly would allow hairstylists to braid natural hair without a barbering or cosmetology license.

 

This bill is already law in about 30 states in the U.S., according to the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit that advocates for civil liberties.

 

Rep. Shelia Stubs (D-Madison) said braiding is a cultural practice and you shouldn’t need a license to do it.

 

“My favorite part is seeing the transformation and making people happy,” Kiara Allen, Kashis Cheveux salon owner said.

 

The State Propaganda Paper

Pointing our glaring bias in our media outlets is almost passe, but we do need to keep doing it. Media outlets like the Milwaukee paper are no longer trustworthy news sources. Their editorial bias has deeply infected their news content. They are simply a propaganda machine for the Democratic Party. They may occasionally run a story counter to the narrative, but that is either accidental or an intentional fig leaf to provide a veneer of objectivity.

In this case, the constant attack on Senator Johnson is an intentional campaign designed to unseat him next year if he chooses to seek reelection. The Milwaukee paper is just a participant in the campaign. You shouldn’t read anything more into their attacks than you would if they were printed on Democratic Party letterhead.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s double standard when it comes to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and suspended Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Brett Blomme is a glaring one.

 

The Journal Sentinel, in its latest relentless attack piece against Johnson, this one by Molly Beck and Patrick Marley, is fervently highlighting the fact that he received donations from an out-of-state business owner who said horrific things about Muslims. This comes on top of a series of other scathing articles, all meant to falsely paint Johnson as a racist in what smacks of a blatant attempt to help the left flip his Senate seat.

 

However, the newspaper is not running the same fervently negative toned hit jobs – er, stories – on Milwaukee County Children’s Court Judge Brett Blomme’s ties to prominent Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin), Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, state Sen. Tim Carpenter, and the state Democratic Party, which helped fund his judicial campaign a few months ago. (The complaint charging Blomme alleges that he shared vile rape videos of toddlers and other children, some using courthouse IP addresses.)

Stingy Wisconsin DOR Advises Local Governments to Horde COVID Relief

Disgusting greed by government bureaucrats. 

“Despite billions of federal dollars being distributed across the state, billions more on the way,  moratoriums on utility bills, evictions, and even multiple changes to income tax deadlines, to date, there have been absolutely no property tax relief efforts by the state – the very tax that funds our local communities,” said John Jacobson, director of government and member relations. “And despite property taxpayer-funded local governments already receiving hundreds of millions of dollars through CARES Act funding, also with billions more on the way from the American Rescue Plan Act, to my knowledge, very few have provided any local relief or flexible options to assist property taxpayers. And now we are beginning to see why.”

 

Wisconsin Statute 70.31 (1) states; “In determining the value, the assessor shall consider…all factors that, according to professionally acceptable appraisal practices, affect the value of the property to be assessed.” If the financial performance of an income-producing property experiences a significant drop in revenue or operates at a financial loss for a year, for example, that adversely impacts the market value of the real estate and could be considered by an assessor.

 

Despite the law, the Department of Revenue recently instructed local assessors to “not make changes for market conditions” relating to COVID-19, but only for new construction, demolition and changes in classification. The document then goes on to coach assessors on how to “respond to municipal officials and the public, when asked why assessors are not recognizing the impacts of COVID-19…”

On checks and balances

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I continue with my ruminations on remedial Enlightenment thought with a current example of where it should apply. Here’s a part:

The very need for government is rooted in the understanding that humans are naturally flawed and need to cede individual power to a collective in order to secure the individual liberties of all. While that seems counterintuitive, the tragic arc of human experience proves the point. But ceding power to a central authority creates a different threat to individual liberties: concentrated power.

 

Because humans are flawed, they will naturally seek to concentrate power for their own purposes. Even while such efforts to concentrate power may be justified in the name of some higher good, the evolution of concentrated power is always the same. The more power is concentrated, the more it is used to quash the individual liberties of others for the benefit of the few, or the one. Without concentrated power, even the most tyrannical among us is impotent. With concentrated power, even the well-meaning can slide into tyranny.

 

Understanding the nature of power in the hands of humans, our Founders structured our government with the express purpose of dividing the collective power of the people into as many parts as possible and using the personal interests and ambitions of each individual to check the others. The goal of dividing power is not that it will enhance the greater good, but that it will restrain the bad. As Federalist 51 explains, “the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other; that the private interest of every individual, may be a centinel over the public rights.”

 

To bring this concept into 2021, we turn to the current controversy over the distribution of COVID-19 relief money being distributed to states by the federal government. In the most recent distribution of our great-grandchildren’s money, the state of Wisconsin expects to receive about $3.206 billion for the conveniently elastic purpose of “COVID relief.”

 

Kerr Insists that Wisconsin Opens Schools

The science is quite clear about this. Many schools have been open all over Wisconsin for months with almost no issues. The refusal to open them know is an act of wonton cruelty against our children.

“We need our schools to open because we know our schools are the safest place for our students to be,” Kerr told reporters. “Excuses mean we are not doing enough for our kids. It’s time to get our kids back to school.”

 

Additionally, she said she wouldn’t adhere to “Madison bureaucracy” and would fight to give every school the resources it needs to fully reopen, including a call for the state to spend its federal COVID relief dollars on reopening schools.

 

Underly in a virtual press conference Saturday after Kerr’s event said Kerr was “pandering for political purposes” when she said scientific evidence shows schools can reopen for in-person classes safely.

 

The Pecatonica School District superintendent said forcing schools to open that are not able to implement social distancing guidelines is wrong and puts kids and teachers at risk.

 

“Kerr clearly did not read the research and she is lying about what it says,” Underly said. “Forcing schools to reopen for in-person learning is simply irresponsible and wrong.”

State Tax Collections Meet Projections Despite COVID

Two points. First, the $1.9 trillion federal COVID relief bill is not, and was never, necessary. It is a complete shakedown of future taxpayers. Second, notice how despite all of the real economic damage and suffering by Wisconsinites, our governments never took the foot off the gas of tax collections. They love to take MORE of our money and give it back to us, but never just step back and collect less. Government is not your friend.

But despite some fears the economic catastrophe would crater Wisconsin’s budget, the state is expected to end the fiscal year in June with $1.8 billion in reserves. That’s $630 million more than what was projected in November.

What’s more, the state is on pace to collect almost the same amount of revenues in the fiscal year ending June 30 as the state projected in January 2020, before the pandemic was on anyone’s radar.

 

And that doesn’t even include the prospect of more federal revenue from last week’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which is expected to direct $3.2 billion to the state of Wisconsin, $2.3 billion to local governments and $189 million for critical infrastructure projects, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.

What the pandemic taught us about prioritizing education

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

The COVID-19 pandemic and our collectively flawed public policy response to it have wrought incalculable harm on our nation, state, and communities. One of the top three consequences that we will be feeling for decades to come is the assault on our children’s education. The early indicators are that many of our children have lost a year or more of their educations with marginal kids being impacted the most. It will take many years to recover as this class of kids moves through the rest of their education and many of them will feel the impact well into adulthood. We know the problem. What are we going to do about it?

 

We have learned a lot about the state of our education system during this pandemic. Many people like to claim that education is a priority. The varied responses to the pandemic revealed who really believes that it is a priority. When the pandemic first emerged with cataclysmic projections a year ago, all schools rightfully sent kids home and scrambled to do the best they could. Within a few months, however, we already knew much more about the virus, the populations at most risk, and how to mitigate the spread. With this knowledge, some schools — particularly private schools, but some government schools — began opening their doors again with hybrid and in-person models. Meanwhile, all schools increased their technological capability to deliver online learning. It is worth noting that we have not seen any significant spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths from schools that opened for in-person learning. As we look to the end of the 2020-2021 school year and the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, what are we going to do to get kids caught up? Part of the solution is for the state to allow more flexibility for local districts. For example, under the current law, government school are not permitted to open before Sept 1. This is a long-established accommodation to Wisconsin’s summer industries that rely on the young labor force and families continuing the time-honored summer holiday tradition.

 

Wisconsin should lift this restriction and allow government schools to open early. This impacts private schools too. While private schools can already open any time they choose, their access to constitutionally required school bussing is tied to the schedule of the local government schools. By opening more days for schools to operate, it provides schools with more flexibility for scheduling options to accommodate more students.

 

Wisconsin could go one step further and enable government schools to move to year-round school too. If education is important to us, then we must treat it as a continual effort and not one relegated to convenient seasons.

 

With that flexibility must come more accountability. One of the ways we show what is important to us is by where we spend our money. We have seen a great variance in the response by government school districts with some of them utterly abandoning our children. Given what we know about the virus today and the experience with schools that have
been open all year, taxpayers should question whether they should continue to fund schools that remain closed to in-person learning. Teachers are receiving vaccines today and the expectation is that every teacher who wants it will be vaccinated within the next month. There is no rational reason for schools to remain closed.

 

If we truly care about education, then we must be willing to put our money where our mouths are and defund schools that refuse to teach our children. In the same thought, we must be willing to shift funds to the schools are, and have been, faithfully educating our kids throughout this pandemic. Throwing money into schools that have been failing our kids is not caring about education. Funding failure is an affront to education.

 

Irrespective of the public policy choices we make, the primary educators of any child remain their parents. Every parent should take a long, hard look at their kids’ school and the education their kids have been receiving. Is it good? Has the school been holding up their end of the bargain in the educational partnership? Have the kids been successful? If not, why not? And if not, why would you continue to send your kids there? Prioritizing education starts at home.

Republicans Seek Legislative Oversight for COVID Money Distribution

Isn’t this just good government? Why would we ever allow a single person to have sole discretion to spend BILLIONS of dollars?

One of the bills, from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, would give the powerful Joint Finance Committee the ability to review Evers’ plan for spending federal COVID dollars.

“More money is flowing into the state than was increased in our last budget,” said LeMahieu, R-Oostburg. “So we feel it’s important to have legislative input into the process to give our say, to represent our areas of the state, our constituents, and give that oversight.”

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