Tag Archives: Duey Stroebel

Senator Stroebel to Advance Referendum Reform

It is remarkable that school districts are one of the only government bodies that can do massive construction projects without putting it out to bid. Given the school-construction-industrial-complex that has sprung up in Wisconsin (now, apparently aided by hired gun Gard), reform is necessary.

With a prominent Wisconsin lawmaker irked that a record could be set for approvals of school projects this year, a lobbying group has emerged to block legislation that could upend the state’s school-referendum system.

Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker John Gard has registered as a lobbyist for an organization called the Wisconsin Construction Group, which advocates for “school construction and school referendums.” Gard filed a disclosure form with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission on Thursday — one day after a Wisconsin Policy Forum report found that state voters will have the opportunity in November to approve a record $2 billion worth of school referendum spending this year.

The prospect that a record could be set has irked Wisconsin Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, who has promised to again pursue legislation that would curtail the use of school referendums. Stroebel has also criticized construction companies for offering so-called pre-referendum services to help school districts win voters’ approval for spending proposals.

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In a statement released on Tuesday, Stroebel deemed Wisconsin’s current system for school projects uncompetitive. He noted that school districts, unlike most other forms of government, are not required to bid out their projects, even those whose cost runs into millions of dollars.

A proposal Stroebel sponsored in the most recent legislative session, Senate Bill 236, would have required school districts to bid out such projects. The bill passed the Wisconsin Senate but failed in the Assembly. Stroebel blamed lobbyists “who don’t want transparency.”

“I am not surprised Mr. Gard is involved as he has been one of the go to lobbyists for anyone opposing reform in the construction industry in recent years at the expense of the taxpayer,” Stroebel said. “There is nothing inherently wrong with a school district seeking technical expertise from a company, but the way construction companies advertise their services shows the real world unspoken understanding.  ‘You give me the contract. I’ll help pass your referendum’.  The question should be, will you deliver the best building at the best price?”

Senator Stroebel Comments on Teacher Firings

Senator Stroebel offered a comment on the story I posted this morning regarding the teacher resignations in West Bend. He nails it.

It’s now clear former Superintendent Olson handled these inappropriate emails correctly.

No student, parent or community member should be mocked with explicit language – especially since those using bullying tactics are teachers.

Earlier this week, the West Bend Educator’s Association suggested this clear violation of public trust was not handled correctly.

Union teachers need to answer if bullying is ok and how they would have handled the situation.

Yesterday, the Washington County Insider posted a second politically charged survey offered to students.

Political agendas must stay out of the classroom.

Children must always come first.

It is unfortunate the many past achievements made by former board members, administrators and teachers are being shadowed by the lapse of judgement of some teachers.

Assembly Passes Budget. Senate Conservatives Hold Out.

Heh.

The Assembly tonight passed the state budget 57-39, with five Republicans joining all Dems in opposing it.

It now heads to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future as Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he doesn’t have the 17 votes he needs to pass it and three Senate Republicans circulate a list of demanded changes.

The Assembly vote came after nearly 11 hours of debate, the rejection of 19 Dem amendments and the adoption of a GOP amendment that makes what the authors call “technical” changes, including deleting a provision requiring DOT to install a railroad gate crossing in Winnebago County.

But in the end, Reps. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha; Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls; Bob Gannon, R-West Bend; Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake; and Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, all voted against the budget.

Good for my rep, Bob Gannon, for voting against this. This is not the kind of budget we expect from a Republican government. We don’t just want “well, it’s better than the Democrats would do.” We want a budget that actually moves the needle toward a better Wisconsin.

And good for my Senator, Duey Stroebel, for being one of the senators holding out for a more conservative budget. It’s almost frustrating because I can’t call and yell at my elected officials. They are already doing the right thing!

Three Senate Republicans are demanding a series of changes to the budget to win over their votes, including raising the income limit for the statewide school choice program and banning UW from spending money on diversity, sensitivity and cultural fluency training.

The three — Sens. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield; Steve Nass, of Whitewater; and Duey Stroebel, of Saukville — also want to move up the planned repeal of the prevailing wage on state projects to Jan. 1 rather than Sept. 1, 2018, and to delete language the Joint Finance Committee added to the budget that would pre-empt local regulations of quarries that produce material for road and construction work.

The $100k Flagger

Heh. This is a story where the reporter is trying very hard to make a distinction that doesn’t make any difference.

State Sen. Duey Stroebel recently cited an eye-popping figure to support his call to scrap Wisconsin’s prevailing wage, telling Wisconsin Public Radio that the typical flagger on a state road project makes $100,000 a year.

That overstates the earnings potential of a highway worker by a wide margin, according to publicly available wage rates and unions that represent road workers.

A typical flagger on such projects would make about $32,760 a year in salary, according to information from those sources.

The number rises to about $53,000 if benefits are included. Overtime hours could push the figure higher, but still far shy of Stroebel’s six-figure estimate.

That’s how it starts. Makes sense so far?  Then we see how they arrived at their figures:

But in wintry Wisconsin, road workers aren’t on the job year-round, said Kent Miller, a spokesman for Wisconsin Laborers District Council. He said a typical work year for flaggers and other road workers would be about 1,200 hours, compared to the 2,080 hours-per-year benchmark for people working full-time, year-round. That’s roughly seven and a half months of the year.

The $32,760 salary estimate cited above is based on a 1,200-hour work year and a prevailing wage rate of $27.30 for a highway flagger in Dane County.

So what’s the difference? The $100k figure is an annualized figure. But Stroebel was making the point that we are paying way too much for our transportation needs and used the compensation for a flagger as an example. Stroebel’s point remains intact. Is paying someone $27.30 per hour a reasonable rate to hold a flag? Or, at the reporter’s own $53k number, is $44.17 per hour, including benefits, a reasonable rate? Could the taxpayers get the same level of competent work for $22 an hour? $15 an hour? $12 an hour?

The answer you’re looking for is, “yes.”

Stroebel Resists Push for Tax Increase for Roads

Good points.

But state Sen. Duey Stroebel said all the talk of the declining condition of the state’s roads needs to be debunked.

The Saukville Republican said in an interview broadcast Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” that people should consider the source and motivation of those who publicize road grades.

“We hear about these studies that say how bad our roads are,” Stroebel said. “Well, you look at who pays for those studies? It’s people who make money building roads. The road builders are paying for those studies.”

Stroebel opposes tax or fee increases to help pay for what some claim is a crumbling state transportation system. He said other studies show a different picture for Wisconsin’s roads.

A report by the conservative Reason Foundation showed Wisconsin’s highway ranking improving from 31st in 2009 to 15th in 2012.

Stroebel said that in the Reason Foundation report, the four states ranked as having the worst roads have prevailing wage laws and no right to work law. The 10 states with the best roads, he said, do not have prevailing wage and have instituted right to work.

As with anything…. follow the money. There is a reason that we have a coordinated push for more transportation spending.

Stroebel brings up a good point about prevailing wage. Although Wisconsin has gotten rid of the prevailing wage requirements for some projects, we have not fully repealed prevailing wage requirements. Let’s fully enact these policy prescriptions before thinking about tax increases.

Stroebel Looks to Change Referendum Process

This is reasonable.

Stroebel’s measure would limit school referendums to the regularly scheduled fall and spring election dates, when voter turnout tends to exceed that of special elections. In addition, it would bar districts from going back to the taxpayers with a new referendum for two years after one fails.

In Wisconsin, school districts are restricted in what they can raise property taxes every year. The exception is that the district can ask the voters through a referendum to approve a property tax increase above the limit. In general, I support this process. It prevents a rogue board from jacking up taxes too much, but allows individual districts to increase their taxes if the voters expressly approve.

The problem is that too many school districts have abused the process. Instead of waiting for normal election days, they have held special elections to suppress voter turnout while district employees flooded the polls. They have also asked the voters multiple times – over and over again – to raise their taxes. They do this because they know that all they need to get a “yes” vote once regardless of how many times the voters have said “no” before that.

Stroebel’s reforms would still allow districts to ask the voters to exceed state-imposed limits on property tax increases, thus preserving local control, but force school boards to put together a valid justification the first time instead of throwing referendum after referendum against the wall until something sticks. Also, making the districts schedule the referendum elections for the same day as normal elections is perfectly reasonable and encourages higher voter turnout. There is nothing so urgent in a school referendum as to warrant a special election.

Stroebel To Propose Raising Minimum Retirement Age

For public employees.

Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, is proposing to raise the minimum age for most workers in the Wisconsin Retirement System from 55 to 57, or 52 from 50 for those in protective services jobs.

A second bill would say retirement payouts would be calculated on the top five years of an employees’ work, rather than the three years considered currently.

“Look at the private sector. Who even has a pension anymore, let alone the ability to retire at 50?” Stroebel said. “It just isn’t out there.”

Stroebel said while the WRS is considered fully funded currently, he believes it could help the future solvency of the trust fund.

“We have to be ahead of the curve on these things, and I don’t think anyone would consider these changes unreasonable whatsoever,” Stroebel said.

Whenever retirement ages are discussed, whether it is for Social Security, public employees, or private employees who still have a pension, I am always amazed at the ridiculousness of the objections. The only reason to oppose raising the retirement age is because you want to retire earlier rather than later. Well, duh, we all do. But as life expectancy has risen, so should the retirement age. There is no rational reason that the taxpayers should be paying someone for 40 years of retirement for someone who only worked for 30 years.

Raise it. And then index it to the national average life expectancy so we can stop fussing with it.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Denies Need for Investigation

Yeah, I’m with Senator Stroebel on this one. It should be a quick investigation if they are telling the truth.

Officials with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin argue there’s no reason for an investigation of its state operations, because fetal tissue donations are not allowed at any of its facilities. Executive Director Tanya Atkinson says it’s due to the extensive infrastructure that’s needed to participate.

 

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State Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg), one of the lawmakers calling for an investigation, does not accept Planned Parenthood’s claims that tissue collection is not done in Wisconsin. “No, I’m not going to just take their word for it. I think we need to see that and confirm that.”

 

Senator Stroebel Fights for Repeal of Prevailing Wage Laws

I knew I wouldn’t regret voting for him.

Last week, I made my position clear that my vote on the budget is solely dependent on full repeal of prevailing wage for local units of government – all other provisions are negotiable. Since then, it has become clear an effort is underway to draft a compromise package of “reforms” to be included in the budget. These “reforms” would likely include exempting a limited number of entities, tweaking the methodology for collecting wage data, and increasing certain project thresholds. In my eyes, this sort of “reform” is unacceptable, especially since a full repeal enjoys such broad support from the Governor, legislators and Wisconsinites statewide.

Just last week I spoke with several contractors on this issue. While I appreciated their willingness to sit down and share their concerns regarding full repeal with me, it is clear they are currently participating in the negotiations to create a “reform” package. It was made abundantly clear that in the event thresholds were raised, they would simply be advocating for a lowering of thresholds in the future. A “reform” package that does not include full repeal would mislead the taxpayers into thinking the problem has been fixed. Unless we enact full repeal, the state will never have the stability that would benefit every unit of government and ultimately every taxpayer.

Real reform requires full repeal for local units of government. I did not run for the State Senate to make bad policy less bad. I ran to lower the tax burden on the hardworking taxpayers of this great state. I ran to eliminate unnecessary red tape holding our small businesses back. I ran to ensure those essential programs and services that governments provide are done so in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Artificially raising the cost of local capital improvement projects is the antithesis of good government.

As uncomfortable to some as these negotiations may be, I will not back down from my position that this budget must include full repeal for local units of government – anything less maintains the status quo and is therefore unacceptable.

Stroebel Advocates Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law

I’m happy to see my soon-to-be state senator forcefully advocating this reform.

Yes, difficult budgetary decisions will have to be made, but the decision to eliminate the antiquated prevailing wage requirement need not be one of them.  Good government demands this common sense reform.
The prevailing wage is an artificially inflated wage that by state statute applies to nearly all public works projects in Wisconsin.  It is a wage determined by a government bureaucracy, not by true competition in the marketplace.  It is protectionism at its worst that unnecessarily costs local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Duey Stroebel to Be Next State Senator from Wisconsin’s 20th District

Congratulations to Duey Stroebel!

 

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More Candidates Jump into the 20th Senate Race

As I predicted in a post about Duey Stroebel entering the race, more contenders are coming out of the woodwork.

To back up, Wisconsin’s 20th Senate district is being vacated by long-term senator Glenn Grothman because he is going to the House of Representatives. There will be a special election to fill the seat, but the Governor hasn’t called for it yet. This is the most Republican seat in the state, so whoever wins the primary will win the seat. It is also, I would argue, the most conservative district in the state, so it will be a conservative Republican who wins it.

Earlier this week, Duey Stroebel was the first to announce that he is running for the seat. Stroebel is a successful businessman who has been representing an Assembly district that is part of this senate district (in Wisconsin, there are three Assembly districts in each senate district). He did not run for reelection for the Assembly because he ran for Congress. He lost the primary to the aforementioned Glenn Grothman. Stroebel has a very solid conservative record in the Assembly and can finance his own campaign. That’s important in what will be a very short election cycle in the middle of the holidays. He has also already represented a third of the district and has good name recognition after a run for Congress. He ruffled some conservatives, including me, in that congressional primary, but I have little doubt that he would make a great senator.

Also this week, Ozaukee County Board Chairman Lee Schlenvogt entered the race. I don’t know Schlenvogt, so some more homework will be required.

Just today, we hear that Ralph Prescott is also running. Prescott is a familiar name in the district because the Prescott family successfully grew a grocery store business and is well-known for being great corporate partners in the community. Prescott is coming off of a primary loss in a run for the 59th Assembly district – one of the three that make up the 20th Senate district. He has served on the Calumet County board and touts his conservative principles. While I don’t know this Prescott’s specific financial situation, I have to believe that he is in a position to also self-finance a good chunk of a campaign just like Stroebel. The fact that he just lost the primary to a political unknown (granted, a political unknown who really worked his tail off in the campaign) would throw some doubt on Prescott’s ability to win a lot of support in a district three times the size of the district he just lost in.

As of now, I think Stroebel is still the clear leader in this race and the guy to beat. We may see a few more names come up in the next couple of weeks. What is great is that the voters of the 20th Senate District are going to have solid group of conservative candidates from which to choose. It is also great for the voters of the 20th that with a more conservative Republican caucus in the state senate, the senator from the 20th – hailing from the reddest district in the state – will certainly be immediately viewed as a leader in the senate.

This will be a fun race to follow. Be sure to tune into B&S!

Duey Stroebel Running for State Senate

Heard today on Jay Weber’s show… Duey Stroebel has jumped into the race for state senate.

In the election on Tuesday, State Senator Glenn Grothman won in the 6th congressional district, thus vacating the state Senate seat in the 20th district. This will require a special election, but we don’t know when it will be yet.

The 20th is a very conservative district, so the Republican primary will be the race. Duey Stroebel is a solid conservative member of the Assembly who gave up his seat in a failed bid for the 6th Congressional seat. He ran a bit afoul during that primary in his attacks on other Republicans, but his record in the Assembly is unassailable conservative. He is a successful businessman who can self-fund a short special election race.

With Stroebel jumping in early, he is the immediate front-runner. This would normally ice out contenders, but given how rarely a seat goes open in this area, I suspect some others will throw in their hats.