Legislature Recesses Until January; Hopes Dim for Action on Sparsity Aid, Relief for Low-Revenue Districts

The Wisconsin Legislature wrapped up its fall floor period last week.  Lawmakers won’t return to the floor again until January.  The fate of any number of bills may depend on how many proposals the houses want to tackle.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told WisPolitics.com late last week that he expects the Assembly to meet for two weeks in January and two weeks in February as well.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said he expects the Senate to be in one day each in January, February and March. Continue reading Legislature Recesses Until January; Hopes Dim for Action on Sparsity Aid, Relief for Low-Revenue Districts

Figures on State Support for K-12 Education, Public School Districts Released

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) recently released its annual memo estimating state support for K-12 education in the previous school year. The memo provides information on the estimated level of state support provided for K-12 education statewide and to individual school districts in the 2016-17 school year.

Continue reading Figures on State Support for K-12 Education, Public School Districts Released

Testing Notification & Opt-Out Bills Pass State Assembly

Two bills dealing with student assessments and authored by state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) chair of the Assembly Education Committee were passed by the Assembly on Thursday, Nov. 9.

Assembly Bill 300 would require each school board to prepare a summary written in commonly understood language that includes all of the following: Continue reading Testing Notification & Opt-Out Bills Pass State Assembly

Senator Sheila Harsdorf Appointed New DATCP Secretary

State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) has been appointed to be the new Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) by Gov. Scott Walker. This will create an open state Senate seat in her Northwestern Wisconsin district that will require a special election, possibly in January.

From Wispolitics.com:

Gov. Scott Walker today appointed GOP state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf the first female DATCP secretary, calling the longtime lawmaker “an excellent fit to lead the agency.” Continue reading Senator Sheila Harsdorf Appointed New DATCP Secretary

Nov. 7 School Referenda Results: 70% Pass

November 7 saw 10 school referendum questions on the ballot with 7 out of 10 being approved by voters.  The passage rate of 70% was somewhat higher than April although there were far fewer questions on the ballot. April 2017 saw 40 out of 65 questions approved for an overall passage rate of 62%.  November 2016 had an 82% approval rate and April 2016 saw 77% pass.

This continues a trend of historically high voter support for public school referenda. During the period from 1996-2010, for example, only 44% of referenda to exceed the revenue limits were approved by voters, according to the figures compiled by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. Continue reading Nov. 7 School Referenda Results: 70% Pass

Key House Committee Begins Deliberations on Federal Tax Reform Package

The House Committee on Ways and Means convened this afternoon in a  “markup” session to begin consideration of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a tax reform package that would slash corporate income tax rate and some individual income tax rates and raise the standard deduction, offsetting the cost by eliminating some cherished itemized deductions. The legislation is the first draft of a bill for tax reform and is expected to be under consideration by the Committee throughout this week with many possible amendments likely to be taken up.   (A markup session is the name given to when a Congressional committee or subcommittee meets to debate, amend or rewrite a bill. The committee has the option of either accepting or rejecting the final version of the bill that comes out of the markup session.)

Several of bill’s provisions would likely impact school districts in a negative way.  These include:

Continue reading Key House Committee Begins Deliberations on Federal Tax Reform Package

Gov. Walker Formally Announces Re-Election Bid

As expected, Governor Scott Walker over the weekend formally announced his intention to run for a third term.  Also, as expected, it seems likely that investing in public schools will be a major pillar in his re-election platform.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

He did not mention (the Foxconn) project in Sunday’s speech and instead focused on his policies that froze tuition at University of Wisconsin campuses, cut taxes and invested more money in public schools. He said he would also combat the spread of opioids and other drugs that have claimed lives across the state.  Continue reading Gov. Walker Formally Announces Re-Election Bid