June 29 Hearing Set for “Dark Store” and “Walgreens Reversal” Bills

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee will hold a public hearing on two bills aimed at curbing corporate strategies that could erode the property tax base of school districts and communities throughout the state.

The hearing on Assembly Bill 386 (the so-called “Dark Store” bill) and Assembly Bill 387 (reversing the 2008 Walgreens v. City of Madison decision) is scheduled for 10:00AM on Thursday, June 29, in room 328 Northwest, State Capitol.  The WASB supports both bills. Continue reading June 29 Hearing Set for “Dark Store” and “Walgreens Reversal” Bills

State Legislative Leaders Negotiating on K-12 Budget

The Assembly Co-Chair of the state’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) said today in a press conference that state Assembly and state Senate leaders are making progress in closed-door meetings on K-12 provisions in the state budget.  Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette, pictured) said the meetings were productive and he thought they could come to agreement rather quickly. Along with Rep. Nygren, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) also participated in the negotiations on the Assembly side.  Wispolitics.com reported that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Senate JFC Co-Chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) were also involved in the meetings.

Rep. Nygren said he was hopeful that K-12 funding would be taken up by JFC next week. We have previously posted on the competing K-12 plans each house has been advocating for: Details Emerge on Senate GOP K-12 PlanAssembly GOP Releases Sweeping K-12 Funding PlanNew Assembly School Funding Proposal Creates State Budget Impasse

Referenda Restriction Sample Materials Available

The WASB has developed a sample board resolution and letter in opposition to the package of referenda restriction bills currently being debated in the state legislature. We also have samples focusing on the bill that would prohibit recurring referenda and force nearly a third of Wisconsin’s school districts to roll back recurring revenue authority approved by  voters in local referenda dating back to 1996, a move that would reduce their collective local taxing authority by nearly $180 million per year. Continue reading Referenda Restriction Sample Materials Available

Letters of Support Requested for School-Based Medicaid Reimbursement

From NSBA: Urgent Request for Letters of Support and Local Examples re: School-Based Medicaid Reimbursement

The U.S. Senate is poised to make public its version of the health care reform bill that is being negotiated among a group of senior Senate Republicans as early as tomorrow (Thursday, June 22).

The WASB has noted in previous posts regarding similar House legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare), efforts to significantly curtail Medicaid spending as part of this legislation have triggered concerns about the impact such cuts would likely have on schools and how services for students with disabilities would be funded. Continue reading Letters of Support Requested for School-Based Medicaid Reimbursement

Michael Ford: Should School Referenda be Limited?

Michael R. Ford, Ph. D., Assistant Professor in Public Administration at UW-Oshkosh, wrote a blog post on the subject of limiting school district referenda,  which is currently being debated in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Should School Referenda be Limited?

I say no. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards has a nice summary of proposed legislation that would restrict the ability of school districts to go directly to the voters for permission to exceed state imposed revenue caps. As I detailed last summer, Wisconsin is experiencing an uptick in both the number and success of school district referenda. The likely reason is the fiscal stress facing many Wisconsin school districts. The move to restrict referenda is a backlash to the willingness of school districts to go repeatedly to their voters to ask for more revenue.  Click here to read the rest of his post.

The former director of research for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) and for a school choice advocacy group,  Dr. Ford has more recently focused his research on how school boards impact student achievement through the degree to which board members share a common definition and view of accountability.  Dr. Ford has twice been a guest speaker at the annual fall WASB Legislative Advocacy Conference.

Details Emerge on Senate GOP K-12 Plan

Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that state Senate Republicans are working on an alternative K-12 funding plan to one released previously by the Assembly GOP. The Senate plan reportedly also focuses on helping historically low-spending school districts.

The difference appears to be that whereas the Assembly GOP plan would allow those districts to raise revenue locally (property tax), the Senate GOP caucus members are looking to target state aid to low spenders. See the full story below with quotes from Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald , Assembly Speaker Vos, Sen. Olsen, JFC Co-Chair Nygren and more:

JSOnline: Senate GOP plan would help Wisconsin’s low-spending schools

School Board Members, Administrators Make Case Against Referendum Restrictions

School board members, district administrators, business officials and others came to the Capitol June 15 to testify at concurrent Senate and Assembly public hearings on bills that are part of an overall package that would severely restrict the ability of school districts to go to referendum and gain additional revenue authority.

The Assembly Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), heard three of the bills and the Senate Government Operations Committee, chaired by Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), heard two.  The overall theme of testimony presented by school leaders was these bills represent unwanted and unnecessary state intrusion and micromanagement into how local school board conduct their fiscal affairs.  In addition, a case was made that these bills will have serious negative consequences for many school districts, including many small, rural districts experiencing declining enrollment. Continue reading School Board Members, Administrators Make Case Against Referendum Restrictions