Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Politics – Wisconsin

Our nation is too important to trust to Mandela Barnes

I did what the vast majority of Wisconsinites did not do… I watched the debate between Johnson and Barnes. No, I didn’t watch it live. I have a life at 7 pm on a Friday evening. Thankfully, it can be found in full on Youtube. Here is a preview of my column from the Washington County Daily News today.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and challenger Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes met last week for their one and only debate before the election to see who should represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate for the next six years. The debate was hosted by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association which lined up the usual panel of Leftist questioners to ask questions from the Left’s perspective while actively avoiding issues that favor the Right.

 

How, for instance, one could ask questions for an hour of candidates for the U.S. Senate without mentioning inflation, Ukraine, our $31 trillion national debt, or the nation’s open border policy — all issues that will be discussed in the Senate — is journalistic malpractice. As the only debate held, it was a poor showing.

 

[…]

 

When asked about Milwaukee’s horrific rise in violent crime under Democratic leadership, Barnes’ answer was to spend more tax money on schools and somehow create jobs (he did not say how this would happen). He has long been a champion of defunding the police and rooted for anti-police rioters from the safety of his Twitter account.

 

Barnes has this relationship exactly backward. It is the violent crime that drives families and jobs out of communities. They will not come back until the crime is under control and the only way a civilized society has ever accomplished that is with a professional and effective police force. Barnes’ policies would lead to more crime, fewer jobs and another generation lost to crime and poverty.

 

While Barnes is advocating for cutting police funding, eliminating cash bail, and emptying our prisons of violent criminals, he is also pushing for the suppression of citizens to keep and bear arms. During the debate, Barnes lamented that, “the ATF doesn’t even have searchable databases right now because of the law,” supported universal background checks, and pushed for red flag laws.

 

Let us put those policy positions together. Barnes is advocating for a federal government that tracks every single gun purchase, keeps a database of who owns what guns, and has the power to strip someone of their 2nd Amendment rights without due process if a government official thinks someone might be a threat someday. While violent crooks run free in Barnes’ America, law-abiding citizens might be stripped of their civil rights if they displease a government official.

 

When asked about President Biden’s unconstitutional effort to forgive student loans, Barnes said, “absolutely it’s fair.”

High Earning Young Professionals Flee NY and CA for TX and FL

Not shocking

survey conducted by SmartAsset tracked the movement of so-called “rich young professionals,” which it described as anyone under 35 earning an adjusted gross income of at least $100,000.

SmartAsset determined the inflow and outflow of rich young professionals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by using Internal Revenue Service data to compare tax returns from 2019 and 2020.

 

It seems young professionals are most eager to leave New York. With a net outflow of 15,788, this state had the highest number of individuals leaving by a significant margin. With a net outflow of 7,960, California also appears to be losing allure for rich young professionals.

This survey measured raw numbers, so of course the states with large populations float to the top. But the lessons should be heeded by Wisconsin. High-earning young professionals are gold for a state economy and culture. Wisconsin should work to attract them. Wisconsin has some wonderful natural attractions, but the tax burden and winters work against it. Wisconsin can’t do anything about the winters, but they can do something about the tax burden.

End the income tax. Reform K-12 education so that young professionals want to educate their kids here. Get crime under control. The recipe is easy, but Wisconsin needs to get cooking.

Evers Promises More Government Spending

More of the same.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, just five weeks before he is up for reelection, announced Monday that if he wins he will propose a 4% increase in funding for local governments each of the next two years.

 

Evers said the money, totaling more than $91 million over two years, could be used to pay for public safety priorities. His plan includes $10 million in funding for local governments to be spent specifically on police, fire and emergency services costs, with the money distributed based on population.

Also more of this… using COVID relief money as a campaign piggy bank to pay for things that have almost nothing to do with the pandemic.

Evers also announced that he was immediately providing nearly $3.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to the Wisconsin State Patrol and campus police departments to pay for overtime.

 

Evers and Barnes run from their records

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. You know, it’s really helpful when people write down what they actually believe. All you have to do is read it. Here’s a part:

You can tell that it is October before an election because the political commercials are inescapable. From their commercials, one might be bamboozled into thinking that Democrats Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes are tax-cutting, crime fighting, small government conservatives despite a lengthy history of being unadulterated leftists. Thankfully, as governor and lieutenant governor, they took the time to write down their ideas and priorities in a budget proposal.

 

The 2021-23 Executive Budget is the budget proposal that the governor submits to the legislature to launch the budget process. It is a document written exclusively by the executive branch and represents the governor’s priorities and policy initiatives. Let us look back to the early months of last year when the governor and lieutenant governor were laying out their priorities in the midst of a pandemic.

 

Despite Evers’ and Barnes’ claims to support tax cuts, the executive budget included an incredible $1 billion (with a “B”) net tax increase. At a time when Wisconsinites were still struggling to recover their livelihoods and businesses were slipping into bankruptcy after Governor Evers forced mass closures, he sought to foist a massive tax increase on the people of Wisconsin.

 

Perhaps more interesting is exactly what taxes he wanted to increase. The biggest proposed tax increase was a $540.1 million increase of individual and corporate income taxes. The second biggest proposed tax increase was a change in the tax code to increase taxes on manufacturing and agricultural companies by $259.1 million. The third largest proposed tax increase was a $350.5 million increase on individual capital gains. All of these taxes would have hit middle class and higher income Wisconsinites hard and pushed more manufacturing out of Wisconsin.

 

But Evers did not stop there.

 

[…]

 

Inexplicably, Evers’s budget proposal would have legalized marijuana for 18-year-olds but raised the age at which people can buy tobacco or vape to 21 years old. Evers supports people getting high so that they will more readily accept his policy proposals.

 

Governor Evers maintains light schedule while destroying lives

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

The point of this is not to ridicule our governor for his pathetic work ethic and disinterest in actually doing his job. The point is to highlight how easy the governor has had it while his actions have destroyed livelihoods, crippled kids’ futures, and forced families into dependency.

 

Throughout the pandemic, Governor Evers was never touched by the consequences of his decisions. He never went a single day without a paycheck or generous benefits. He never had to cut back on groceries, turn down the heat in winter, or skip paying a few bills to get by.

 

Governor Evers never felt the pain of a small-business owner who sat at her desk and made the hard decisions to drain her family’s savings to keep the business afloat for another couple of months in the hope that they might be able to make it. Evers never sat across the table from good people and had to take away their livelihoods because there was no more money. The governor was blissfully eating ice cream in his free mansion when single moms went home and had to explain to their children that they needed to save money because she had lost her job.

 

Governor Evers never had to hastily call his parents to watch the kids because schools and child care centers were suddenly closed. He never had to watch his kid, who struggled with school, sink into failure and depression because virtual learning was not working for him. Evers never had to go to work during the pandemic as so many “essential” people did, and then come home and work another four or five hours to help his kids navigate recorded lessons and homework.

 

While Wisconsinites were struggling with Evers’ idiotic and tyrannical edicts during the pandemic, the governor kept his lackadaisical schedule, ate his ice cream, played pickleball, and led his best life at taxpayers’ expense. It is offensive.

 

It is equally offensive that the governor is continuing to dole out our tax dollars in dribs and drabs as “relief” and expects people to be thankful. He behaves like an abusive husband who hands his wife a bandage after beating the snot out of her and expects gratitude. His actions deserve contempt, not appreciation.

Terrible school performance demands real action

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

In this column last week, I lamented the abysmal performance of our government schools. At all levels, barely a third of our kids are at least proficient in language or math skills. In some cases, it is far less than a third. Such poor performance demands action. What would I do? I’m glad you asked.

 

Before we begin, we must understand a few things. We, the people, have a Constitutional and moral obligation to provide for the education of our children. An education is not only a valuable asset for an individual, but an educated citizenry is a prerequisite for sustained self-governance.

 

There is no requirement, however, that the government operate the means of delivering that education. In fact, as the data shows, the government is really terrible at delivering education. While we are compelled to pay for education with our tax dollars, we are also obligated to find the best means of delivering that education.

 

Also, kids are individuals. They are not cattle. They learn at different speeds, with different methods, and with different styles. It is unrealistic to expect any single school to cater to the individual needs of students. Our kids are better served if we encourage the development of an educational heterogeny and trust parents to choose the best option for their children. All that understood, first, we must implement universal school choice with equal funding for each child irrespective of the school they attend. In Wisconsin’s current School Choice programs, taxpayers get a bargain because they provide much less money for a kid who attends a choice school than if the kid attends a government school. We must equalize funding to equalize choice. The current rate in Wisconsin is $16,017 per child. The full funding should follow the child.

 

Next, we should implement rigorous, focused, testing of core subjects for all schools that receive funding. The taxpayers are paying for a quality education and deserve to know that their money is being well spent. The key, however, is that the testing must only test true core subjects and not impose any other strictures on the schools. If 70% of the children are proficient in reading, writing, math, and civics, then that is more than twice as good as the current government schools are delivering. We should use the power of the purse to demand very high standards in a very limited number of key subjects.

 

Once the funding and testing infrastructure is in place, Wisconsin should privatize all K-12 government schools. All of them. We should get government out of the business of delivering education.

 

When I have suggested privatization in the past, people tend to have one of two sincere reservations. Some folks worry about for-profit schools. We have been culturalized to think that profit is incongruous with education. It is not. Capitalism and the profit motive have improved the lives of more people than any other system in the history of humankind. They have lifted people out of poverty and cured diseases. Education is not immune from its benefits. From a taxpayer perspective, if a school can deliver 96% reading proficiency and make a profit, we should be delighted.

 

Some folks also worry about schools that may teach values with which they disagree. They usually ignore the fact that our government schools are already teaching values with which many disagree, thus instigating controversy. Privatization must come with getting government away from dictating values and relegate it to simply enforcing core standards.

 

With diversity of schools, we may have schools that teach values rooted in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Critical Race Theory, secularism, or any number of different value systems. We have a diverse society, and that diversity will be reflected in our schools. Families will choose and government will leave them alone to believe what they will. We should abandon the notion that we must have uniformity of beliefs in order to have uniformity in education funding. If we truly believe in diversity, then we must actually practice it.

 

In all actions, we must be obsessive about educational outcomes and unapologetic about demanding them. If we can double proficiency in reading, writing, and math, our children will be equipped to build better futures for themselves and our entire society will benefit. If we can triple proficiency (sadly, there is room to triple it), the individual and societal benefits are immeasurable.

 

That is what I would do. What would you do to improve education for our kids?

Evers’ Semi-Retired Work Ethic

If you wonder why it was so easy for government officials to close down your business or force people to stay home or create mandates that put people out of work… this is why. Throughout the pandemic when people were out of work, businesses were going under, and paychecks were squeezed, our governor was putting in 30-hour weeks and getting home to his taxpayer-funded mansion in time for Wheel every day. All the while, he never missed a paycheck; never had to sit across the table from a valued employee and tell them that they didn’t have a job anymore; never had to tell his wife that they needed to cut household expenses because his hours were cut; none of it. Evers, like all of the other politicians who put millions of people out of work, continued on completely immune from the negative effects of their decisions. Other than wearing a mask and finding his favorite restaurant closed, Evers felt no impact from his decisions.

Empower Wisconsin compared the governor’s calendars for the first week in February in the years 2019, 2020, and 2021. This is historically a busy week for a governor. The Legislature was in session, and Evers was preparing a budget in two of the years. He was also dealing with a pandemic and related problems. But the governor kept a relatively light schedule. He averaged just under 36 hours of total official government work, according to his calendars.

 

For the week around February 15 in 2019, ’20 and ’21, Evers averaged just 33 1/2 hours per week. And for the last week of February, he worked on average just over 20 hours.

 

On Wednesday Feb. 27, 2019, Evers put in just over six hours of official business, according to his calendar. That included a 45-minute breakfast with Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and a half hour of drive time back and forth between the Executive Mansion and the Capitol. He got home at 2:45 p.m. The rest of the day is redacted.

 

The average Wisconsin worker logged nearly 42 hours per week last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average worker was paid a lot less than Tony Evers.

 

Over the last year-plus, Evers has been spending a lot more time on the road — or in the air, using the state plane. Much of that travel has to do with the billions of dollars in federal COVID aid the Democrat has been able to use as a kind of unregulated campaign slush fund. He’s handed out a lot of big checks, covered by the taxpayers of the United States of America. Despite his travels, Evers is generally back at the mansion in time to watch the “Wheel of Fortune.”

 

It’s not all work and no play. A few days before Christmas last year, Evers jumped on the state plane for a tour of the Potawatomi Community Center and a pickleball match. It’s well known Evers is a big pickleball fan. His official day ended at 2:35 p.m.

 

Evers took the rest of the week (through the day after Christmas) off. There was one item listed on his Dec. 27 calendar: A phone call with President Biden, who also isn’t known for burning the midnight oil in office. His calendars show no activity on Tuesday, Dec. 28, just a quick COVID-19 Response check-in call the next day, and then very little on his schedule until Jan. 3. The governor apparently had settled his brain for a long winter’s nap.

Terrible school performance demands real action

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Readers of this blog won’t be surprised by the thoughts. Here’s a bit:

Also, kids are individuals. They are not cattle. They learn at different speeds, with different methods, and with different styles. It is unrealistic to expect any single school to cater to the individual needs of students. Our kids are better served if we encourage the development of an educational heterogeny and trust parents to choose the best option for their children. All that understood, first, we must implement universal school choice with equal funding for each child irrespective of the school they attend. In Wisconsin’s current School Choice programs, taxpayers get a bargain because they provide much less money for a kid who attends a choice school than if the kid attends a government school. We must equalize funding to equalize choice. The current rate in Wisconsin is $16,017 per child. The full funding should follow the child.

 

Next, we should implement rigorous, focused, testing of core subjects for all schools that receive funding. The taxpayers are paying for a quality education and deserve to know that their money is being well spent. The key, however, is that the testing must only test true core subjects and not impose any other strictures on the schools. If 70% of the children are proficient in reading, writing, math, and civics, then that is more than twice as good as the current government schools are delivering. We should use the power of the purse to demand very high standards in a very limited number of key subjects.

 

Once the funding and testing infrastructure is in place, Wisconsin should privatize all K-12 government schools. All of them. We should get government out of the business of delivering education.

 

When I have suggested privatization in the past, people tend to have one of two sincere reservations. Some folks worry about for-profit schools. We have been culturalized to think that profit is incongruous with education. It is not. Capitalism and the profit motive have improved the lives of more people than any other system in the history of humankind. They have lifted people out of poverty and cured diseases. Education is not immune from its benefits. From a taxpayer perspective, if a school can deliver 96% reading proficiency and make a profit, we should be delighted.

Step 1: Admit that you have a problem

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week. It is particularly apropos in light of the state DPI releasing their budget request asking for more and more money.

The data is telling. The more we have spent on K-12 education, the worse the results have gotten. If we are to make data-driven decisions, there are only two conclusions. 1) There is no correlation between money spent and educational outcomes. The outcomes are a result of other inputs. 2) There is a negative correlation between money spent and educational outcomes. More money actually results in poorer outcomes.

Personally, I think the answer is #2. Here’s why: once basic needs are funded (we did that a long time ago), more money becomes a distraction from core education. Every administrator, department, specialist, etc. who is hired is looking for something to do. They create new curriculum, new programs, change standards, create study committees, have meetings, and on and on and on. All of that is time that is not being spent in classrooms teaching core subjects in proven ways.

This happens in corporate America too. When companies get fat, they spend a lot of time-wasting energy around the edges of their core businesses and profits erode. That’s why the market tends to love it when a company cuts fat in a deep layoff.

Anyway, here’s the column. Look at the data:

The first step in the renowned twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is to admit that you have a problem. One cannot begin the path to recovery if one does not admit to having a problem. Well, Wisconsin has a huge problem. Our government education system is utterly failing our kids and it is getting worse every year. Our governor, Tony Evers, with a lifetime spent in government education, accepts such failure as normal and acceptable. It is not.

 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, every significant benchmark of student achievement is in freefall since well before the abysmal response of government schools accelerated the decline. Student proficiency on the ACT is down.

 

Between 2016-2017 and 2020-2021, the percentage of Wisconsin eleventh graders who were proficient or better on the English language arts part of the ACT, which measures understanding of English, writing, and knowledge of language, dropped from 39.5% to 33%. That is a 16.4% drop in scores in five years.

 

Math scores are even worse. Over the same time span, the percentage of Wisconsin’s eleventh graders who were proficient or better at mathematics dropped from 35.7% to 25.5%. That is a 28.6% drop in proficiency in just five years.

 

The story is the same for the ACT Aspire, which is given to ninth and tenth graders. Proficiency in English dropped from 41.2% to 32.4% between 2016-2017 and 2020-2021. In Mathematics, proficiency dropped from 37.1% to 29.8%. Those are declines of 21.4% and 19.7%, respectively.

 

Looking at the younger students between third and eight grades who take the Forward exams, the decline remains consistent and persistent. On the Forward exam over the same five years, the number of students who were proficient or better in English language arts declined 24.1% from 44.4% to 33.7%. In mathematics, their scores declined 21.5% from 42.8% to 33.6%.

 

But let us step back from the cold numbers for a moment and put them in perspective. The fact than only 33.7% of Wisconsin’s students between third and eighth grades are at least proficient in English language arts is abysmal. According to the DPI, the Forward Exam tests what, “students should know and be able to do in order to be college and career ready.” That means that barely a third of Wisconsin’s students are meeting grade-level standards to be ready to attend college or start a career. Only one in three of Wisconsin’s kids are proficient in English or math — two key skills for success as an adult.

 

What the heck are we doing? Is that really good enough? Two-thirds of our kids are falling behind and we collectively shrug and accept it? Have we been so cowed by the government education bullies that we are willing to accept that their failure is normal and satisfactory?

 

Our governor thinks it is. On his campaign website, he brags about his accomplishments on education. As proof, he noticeably fails to mention anything about student achievement. Instead, he cites the fact that the state spends more money than ever on K-12 education. If the spending is not resulting on better results for our kids, then what is the point?

 

In fact, the more we spend, the worse our student achievement is getting. According to DPI data, between the 2016-2017 and 2020-2021 school years, total state and local spending on government K-12 schools ballooned 14.8% from $11.5 billion to $13.2 billion. Over the same period, total enrollment declined 3.6% from 855,307 to 823,827 students. That is a whopping 19% increase in spending per student over just five years.

 

What are we getting for our money? Why are we continuing to pump more money into government bureaucracy who produces increasingly poor results every year? Governor Tony Evers recently announced that he wants to spend an additional $2 billion on K-12 schools. Given that a $1.7 billion increase in spending over the last five years resulted in a 24.1% drop in English scores on the Forward exam, will another $2 billion push scores down further?

 

Like any addiction, spending more money on it makes it worse because the spending obscures the real problems. In Wisconsin, we have been failing our kids and making ourselves feel better about it by spending more money on them. They do not need more money. They need a quality education and our government education establishment is increasingly unable or unwilling to give them that education.

 

It is time to stop. Stop the excessive spending. Stop the pretending that our government education system works. Stop accepting abysmal performance as normal or acceptable. Stop rewarding failure. Admit that we have a real problem and we are failing our kids at every grade level.

 

We cannot begin on the path to fixing our government education system until we admit that it has failed. As a lifelong insider of that system, Governor Tony Evers is never going to take the first step to recovery. We need a governor who will.

 

We need a governor who will focus on outcomes instead of inputs. We need a governor who will value our kids more than the system. Let me rephrase that … our kids need a governor who will value them more than government workers. Tony Evers is not that governor.

Concerns at Samaritan

From the Washington County Insider. I’ve had some personal insight into Samaritan and it is in sore need of attention. One wonders when that shoe is going to drop.

What once appeared a priority in the county with a dedicated Task Force and study committee, now, as a Samaritan resident noted, did not even manage a reference during the county executive’s 2022 state of the county address.

 

So, what is the status of the Samaritan Home and what is the future?

 

[…]

  • Part of the discussion during the July 2021 meeting was financing and awaiting funds from the U.S. Treasury. A section of the story read; Washington County is in line to receive approximately $26.2 million in federal COVID relief funding. Schoemann said it is possible the federal money the County will be receiving could pay for this. “That’s why I said we have to let Matt finish all his work. By the time he finishes we should have final guidance from the U.S. Treasury.  I don’t know that it would pay for all of it, but it may be able to pay for a good portion,” he said.

 

The “Matt” referred to in the story is Matt Furno. Calls have been placed to Furno but recently a policy was enacted by the county executive and Furno said he cannot now speak directly to the issue. “I am not allowed to speak,” he said, “We could use your help in this whole thing.”

 

An email was sent to have a sit-down interview with Furno but so far there’s been no response.

 

[…]

 

Inside the Samaritan Home residents talk about the limited staff and some have mentioned how staff are paid with gift cards as incentives should they choose to work 7 days a week or more. Residents have also mentioned feelings of worry and insecurity about their living situation. Another wondered if the National Guard would be brought in to help with staffing.

 

County Supervisor Jodi Schulteis is Chairperson of the Human Services Committee, which in part, is informed about the Samaritan Home and its status. On the county board since being appointed in 2020, Schulteis said she has not been inside the Samaritan Home.

 

Questioned about the future of the Samaritan Home she said, “We continue to meet on it and discuss it and we continue to take the Task Force recommendation seriously but there has been no decision one way or the other.”

Step 1: Admit that you have a problem

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

The first step in the renowned twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is to admit that you have a problem. One cannot begin the path to recovery if one does not admit to having a problem. Well, Wisconsin has a huge problem. Our government education system is utterly failing our kids and it is getting worse every year. Our governor, Tony Evers, with a lifetime spent in government education, accepts such failure as normal and acceptable. It is not.

 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, every significant benchmark of student achievement is in freefall since well before the abysmal response of government schools accelerated the decline. Student proficiency on the ACT is down.

 

Between 2016-2017 and 2020-2021, the percentage of Wisconsin eleventh graders who were proficient or better on the English language arts part of the ACT, which measures understanding of English, writing, and knowledge of language, dropped from 39.5% to 33%. That is a 16.4% drop in scores in five years.

 

Math scores are even worse…

 

[…]

 

But let us step back from the cold numbers for a moment and put them in perspective. The fact than only 33.7% of Wisconsin’s students between third and eighth grades are at least proficient in English language arts is abysmal. According to the DPI, the Forward Exam tests what, “students should know and be able to do in order to be college and career ready.” That means that barely a third of Wisconsin’s students are meeting grade-level standards to be ready to attend college or start a career. Only one in three of Wisconsin’s kids are proficient in English or math — two key skills for success as an adult.

 

What the heck are we doing? Is that really good enough? Two-thirds of our kids are falling behind and we collectively shrug and accept it? Have we been so cowed by the government education bullies that we are willing to accept that their failure is normal and satisfactory?

 

Our governor thinks it is. On his campaign website, he brags about his accomplishments on education. As proof, he noticeably fails to mention anything about student achievement. Instead, he cites the fact that the state spends more money than ever on K-12 education. If the spending is not resulting on better results for our kids, then what is the point?

 

[…]

 

Like any addiction, spending more money on it makes it worse because the spending obscures the real problems. In Wisconsin, we have been failing our kids and making ourselves feel better about it by spending more money on them. They do not need more money. They need a quality education and our government education establishment is increasingly unable or unwilling to give them that education.

 

It is time to stop. Stop the excessive spending. Stop the pretending that our government education system works. Stop accepting abysmal performance as normal or acceptable. Stop rewarding failure. Admit that we have a real problem and we are failing our kids at every grade level.

Judge Orders WEC to Follow Law

The only reason this is even in court is because the WEC is a rogue agency that won’t follow the law.

WAUKESHA — A Waukesha County judge on Wednesday ruled that the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s guidance to municipal clerks about filling in missing witness information on absentee ballots runs counter to state law and banned the practice.

 

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Aprahamian issued a temporary restraining order and injunction against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, barring it from advising clerks to follow guidelines it issued in 2016 regarding incomplete witness information on absentee ballots. The WEC in 2016 said if information pertaining to witnesses on absentee ballots is missing a component like an address, clerks are to do all the reasonably can to “cure” the ballot and get that missing information, including relying on election records, personal knowledge, or other databases. Voters or witnesses “may” provide the missing information in person, by phone, fax, email or mail, or voters can request a new ballot. Clerks were advised they could return the ballot envelope to voters to get the information.

Tax increases coming in conservative Washington County

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

What is going on in Washington County? The county that brags about being the most conservative county in the state is awash with proposals for massive tax increases. Several local governments and the county itself are lining up for huge tax increases during a recession when inflation is raging out of control. The numbers always tell the story. Let us dig a little into the numbers of Washington County, the city of West Bend, and the West Bend School District.

 

Washington County has put a referendum on the ballot this November asking the voters if they should increase the property tax levy by 9.9% to add positions to the Sheriff’s Department. County officials are selling the tax increase as necessary to combat an increase in crime and drug use that is spilling over the border from Milwaukee. Officials are also selling the notion that the tax levy rate will still decrease even with the increase. Free money, right?

 

Looking into the numbers, the crime and drug issues are certainly real. The portrayal of the budget is not. According to county budget information, in 2010 the county spent $118.38 million. The proposed 2023 budget is $135.37 million. That is a spending increase of 14.3% over the period. Over the same period, the county’s population increased by 4.5% according to U.S. Census data. The county has been increasing spending faster than the underlying population it serves has been growing. County officials are correct that the property tax rate has been decreasing for several years. How have they pulled off an increase in spending with a decrease in taxes? The answer is twofold. First, while the levy rate has been decreasing, the property values that it taxes have been increasing. Second, the county has been more and more reliant on the county sales tax. According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, per-capita county sales tax collections in Washington County have increased by a whopping 63% between 2010 and 2021.

 

Washington County has been more frugal than most governments, but that is like bragging about being the smartest Bears fan.

 

The city of West Bend rejected the idea of putting a referendum on the ballot to ask for a big tax increase, but that is only because they chose to consider increasing taxes on their own authority. In West Bend’s case, they are arguing that they need to enact a huge tax increase to improve the roads. The numbers argue against giving them more money to spend.

 

In 2016, the earliest year for which city officials have chosen to publish numbers on their website, the city’s operating budget general fund spent $21.4 million. In 2022, that budget is $25.8 million. That is a 20.5% increase in spending in six years. Over the same period, the city’s population grew a negligible 0.08% from 31,702 to 31,727 according to census data. A city taxpayer might ask where all of that increased spending has been going if not to repair the roads.

 

The West Bend School District is in the beginning stages of thinking about asking the taxpayers for more money in a referendum as early as April of next year. As in previous referendum attempts, the school district will want to spend more money on facilities and will paint the scary picture of students being educated in unsafe conditions. Again, the numbers tell a story.

 

According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, in fiscal year 2013, the West Bend School District spent $76.01 million. In fiscal year 2021, they spent $87.03 million. That is an increase of 14.5%. At the same time, the district saw enrollment decline 16% from 6,952 to 5,824 students according to the district’s own figures. Increasing spending in the face of declining enrollment resulted in a per-student increase in district spending of 36.7% over the last ten years. Again, a prudent district taxpayer might ask where all of that money is going if not to ensure that the students are receiving a quality education in a safe environment.

 

If there was any time when conservative elected leaders should be standing up for taxpayers, this is it. The taxpayers’ family budgets are already being squeezed from all directions. Conservative elected leaders should start from the position that the government has enough money and budget from there.

UN is Late Again

The UN is like that scrawny kid who runs in after the fight is over sucker punches the loser. We have known about China committing genocide against the Uyghurs for years. We don’t need the UN to tell us that. The question is whether or not the world community is going to do anything about it. We already know the answer to that too.

The UN has accused China of “serious human rights violations” in a long-awaited report into allegations of abuse in Xinjiang province.

China had urged the UN not to release the report – with Beijing calling it a “farce” arranged by Western powers.

 

The report assesses claims of abuse against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities, which China denies.

 

But investigators said they found “credible evidence” of torture possibly amounting to “crimes against humanity”.

Human rights groups have been sounding the alarm over what is happening in the north-western province for years, alleging that more than one million Uyghurs had been detained against their will in a large network of what the state calls “re-education camps”.

COVID Money Dumped Into Money Pit

Remember when all of this emergency COVID money was supposed to rescue us? Now COVID is over and it’s being dumped into Evers’ favorite money pit.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers is giving Wisconsin K-12 public schools $90 million more in federal COVID-19 relief money, a move he announced Tuesday just before schools were to open for the fall.

Tax increases coming in conservative Washington County

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

What is going on in Washington County? The county that brags about being the most conservative county in the state is awash with proposals for massive tax increases. Several local governments and the county itself are lining up for huge tax increases during a recession when inflation is raging out of control. The numbers always tell the story. Let us dig a little into the numbers of Washington County, the city of West Bend, and the West Bend School District.

 

Washington County has put a referendum on the ballot this November asking the voters if they should increase the property tax levy by 9.9% to add positions to the Sheriff’s Department. County officials are selling the tax increase as necessary to combat an increase in crime and drug use that is spilling over the border from Milwaukee. Officials are also selling the notion that the tax levy rate will still decrease even with the increase. Free money, right?

 

Looking into the numbers, the crime and drug issues are certainly real. The portrayal of the budget is not. According to county budget information, in 2010 the county spent $118.38 million. The proposed 2023 budget is $135.37 million. That is a spending increase of 14.3% over the period. Over the same period, the county’s population increased by 4.5% according to U.S. Census data. The county has been increasing spending faster than the underlying population it serves has been growing. County officials are correct that the property tax rate has been decreasing for several years. How have they pulled off an increase in spending with a decrease in taxes? The answer is twofold. First, while the levy rate has been decreasing, the property values that it taxes have been increasing. Second, the county has been more and more reliant on the county sales tax. According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, per-capita county sales tax collections in Washington County have increased by a whopping 63% between 2010 and 2021.

 

Washington County has been more frugal than most governments, but that is like bragging about being the smartest Bears fan.

Wisconsinites Face Tax Bill for School Loan Handout

Obviously, the best solution is to abolish the state income tax.

Joe Biden‘s student loan relief plan could trigger up to $1,100 in state-level taxes in at least 13 states because the $10,000-$20,000 in forgiveness could count toward an individual’s income when filing their taxes.

 

[…]

 

The top tax figures for New York and Wisconsin, $685 and $530 respectively, do not include consideration of top marginal rate ‘because it would apply to relatively few eligible beneficiaries’ of the plan.

Crooks Sue Evers Over Delays

Between the crooks, the lawyers, and the governor, I kind of hope everyone loses.

Moore’s aunt said he spent an extra month in jail waiting for a lawyer to even ask for lower bail. He’s being held on a $30,000 bail for charges of armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon.

 

“This ain’t gonna be nothing but a lawsuit, they’re making it hard on themselves, too,” said Moore’s aunt Denise Cunningham about the delay in providing attorneys for the indigent.

 

The lawyers bringing the lawsuit say Moore is among thousands of indigent defendants forced to wait months or more to get a lawyer. Milwaukee Attorney John Birdsall said the issue has been getting worse for at least 15 years.

 

“The reason is because the public defender office, which was created to meet our state’s constitutional obligations to provide counsel, has been chronically underfunded, and everybody knows it,” Birdsall said.

 

The lawyers hope this lawsuit will force the state to increase public defender funding affecting an estimated 35,000 defendants like Moore.

 

“Apparently, because there’s not enough public defenders to go around with the criminal system,” Norton said. “So he’s just sitting there.”

No Ratchets for Mandela Barnes

I had forgotten about this gem. Barnes has led such an immoral personal life that these little windows into it get lost in the wash. By the Left’s standards, the misogyny and transphobia displayed should be disqualifiers for office.

Barnes was listed as a host for a 2009 event titled “Pretty In Pink A Vicky Secret Affair,” a lingerie party that barred “ratchets” – slang for trashy women – from attending.

The scandal initially broke as Barnes ran for lieutenant governor in 2018. Facebook screenshots of the event published by local media outlets at the time show that Barnes was listed as one of the party’s co-hosts.

[…]

Barnes’ party also advertised prizes “FOR THE GIRL GOIN’ THE HARDEST IN HER VICKY’S!!!”

The Democratic Senate candidate’s Facebook event said that bouncers at the door would be “handin’ out free choke slams and sleeper holds” to men who showed up and that it is “a Vicky’s Secret party, why would you wanna roll on the ground wit a dud anyway???”

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