ترول ایرانی

گالری عکس

Category “Wisconsin’s Budget Mess”

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Uphold Act 10

So unions, you want to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Deal­ing unions their lat­est loss in court, a fed­eral appeals court Fri­day upheld Gov. Scott Walker’s tight lim­its on col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing for most pub­lic employees.

The rul­ing by the three-judge panel upheld a Sep­tem­ber deci­sion by U.S. Dis­trict Judge William Con­ley in Madi­son that the law known as Act 10 does not infringe on the rights of gov­ern­ment workers.

Act 10 does not vio­late the First or Four­teenth Amend­ments to the United States Con­sti­tu­tion. We there­fore affirm the dis­trict court’s judg­ment in favor of the state,” the rul­ing reads.

The law stip­u­lates that gov­ern­ment employee unions can nego­ti­ate over wages but noth­ing else, and that any pay increases can be no higher than the rate of infla­tion, except where vot­ers approve them by ref­er­en­dum. The law also dic­tates that unions can­not be rec­og­nized by the state or local gov­ern­ments unless 51% of all poten­tial mem­bers — not just those vot­ing — sup­port the union in annual elections.

Two unions rep­re­sent­ing local employ­ees through­out Dane County sued in July 2011 in fed­eral court in Madi­son con­tend­ing the law vio­lates their rights to free­dom of asso­ci­a­tion and equal pro­tec­tion under the law.

This dif­fer­ence is likely of no com­fort to plain­tiffs, but the First Amend­ment does not require an affir­ma­tive response from gov­ern­men­tal enti­ties; it sim­ply requires the absence of a neg­a­tive restric­tion,” Con­ley wrote in his own deci­sion last year. “Under Act 10, gen­eral employ­ees remain free to asso­ciate and rep­re­sent employ­ees and their unions remain free to speak; munic­i­pal employ­ers are sim­ply not allowed to listen.”

Act 10 is still before the Wis­con­sin State Supreme Court, with a rul­ing expected in the next cou­ple of months.

Leave a Comment

UW Slush Fund Grew to $1.7 Billion">UW Slush Fund Grew to $1.7 Billion

The Regents are do do things, right?

New fig­ures from the Uni­ver­sity of Wis­con­sin Sys­tem show the system’s reserves stood at $1.7 bil­lion at the end of March.

The sys­tem released data Thurs­day that shows cam­puses had a com­bined $1.61 bil­lion in uncom­mit­ted reserves. About $121 mil­lion was committed.

The fig­ures also project the sys­tem will have $1.1 bil­lion in uncom­mit­ted reserves and $205 mil­lion in com­mit­ted reserves on June 30, the end of the state’s fis­cal year.

Sys­tem offi­cials have taken intense crit­i­cism over the last year for build­ing mas­sive reserves while rais­ing tuition year after year.

The most recent bud­get called for a tuition freeze on stu­dents attend­ing the UW System.

Leave a Comment

Image of the Day

(Via Face­book)

This is from 2012 data in an analy­sis from the Mer­ca­tus Cen­ter, a think tank house at George Mason University.


Con­grat­u­la­tions Wis­con­sin, we have one of the most sol­vent state bud­gets in the nation.

Act 10, doing great things for the Bad­ger State three-years running.

Leave a Comment

Meanwhile…in Illinois

Just pass­ing this along.

Leg­is­la­tors passed an over­haul of the state public-employee retire­ment sys­tem Tues­day, cut­ting ben­e­fits for work­ers and retirees in a move that sets up a likely court bat­tle with orga­nized labor.

Sup­port­ers say the Illi­nois pen­sion leg­is­la­tion is expected to save $160 bil­lion and will fully fund the retire­ment sys­tem over 30 years.

We’re here today because the cost of our present state sys­tems are sim­ply too rich for the resources avail­able,” said House Speaker Michael Madi­gan, a Democrat.

Gov. Pat Quinn, a Demo­c­rat, is expected to sign the bill into law.

Illi­nois has seen its credit rat­ing fall in recent years to the low­est among U.S. states as it has strug­gled to address a gap in its pen­sion funds that is near­ing $100 billion.

The mea­sure also gives Chicago offi­cials a tem­plate to fol­low as they move to address the city’s own pen­sion cri­sis; Chicago’s credit rat­ing is among the low­est for major U.S. cities.

The pen­sion cri­sis is not truly solved until relief is brought to Chicago,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “With­out pro­vid­ing the same relief to local gov­ern­ments, we know that tax­pay­ers, employ­ees, and the future of our state and local economies will remain at risk.”

The Illi­nois over­haul pack­age relies on ben­e­fit cuts, includ­ing reduc­ing the annual cost-of-living increase for retirees and rais­ing the retire­ment age for younger workers.

Iron­i­cally, the plan is being attacked on two fronts.  Orga­nized labor (as expected) is scream­ing bloody mur­der about the changes and plans on going to go to court to chal­lenge the law as soon as the ink on Quinn’s sig­na­ture is dry.

On the other side is the few con­ser­v­a­tive think tanks which oper­ate in and around Spring­field, which don’t think the leg­is­la­tion goes far enough to keep the state from even­tu­ally hav­ing to file for bank­ruptcy.  They’ve called the bill a ban­dage on a open wound which will not be enough.

I tend to agree with the think tanks here, but the real­ity that Illi­nois is even doing this given all the “hey” Quinn tried to make about Act 10 in 2011, is kind of nice to enjoy.

Leave a Comment

The Debate Over Meeme Resurfaces Once Again

I won’t make many friends with cer­tain fam­ily and for­mer class­mates, but since it is in the news, it is time to say it: The Kiel Area School Dis­trict needs to finally bite the bul­let, and close down Meeme Ele­men­tary School.

With ele­men­tary enroll­ment declin­ing, the Kiel Area School Dis­trict is tak­ing a look at its two ele­men­tary schools to deter­mine whether it should con­tinue to oper­ate both of them.

Enroll­ment at Meeme LEADS Ele­men­tary School declined by 15 stu­dents over the last four years, from 101 stu­dents in 2009-10 to 86 this school year, accord­ing to infor­ma­tion from the dis­trict. Mean­while, enroll­ment at Ziela­nis Ele­men­tary School declined by 38 stu­dents, from 496 to 458, dur­ing that time period.

An enroll­ment pro­jec­tion analy­sis by the Uni­ver­sity of Wisconsin-Madison’s Applied Pop­u­la­tion Lab­o­ra­tory projects a con­tin­ued decline in ele­men­tary enrollment.

The dis­trict looks at its staffing sit­u­a­tion every March, Super­in­ten­dent Louise Blanken­heim said. This year, for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year, the dis­trict trans­ferred a teacher from Meeme to Ziela­nis. Next year’s fourth-grade class at Meeme would have had only 11 stu­dents, so the fourth grade and one teacher were moved to Ziela­nis for 2013–14.

That led to the ques­tion of whether Kiel should look at hav­ing one or two ele­men­tary schools, accord­ing to Blanken­heim. Know­ing “where the bud­gets have been, where the state budget’s going, know­ing that every year we’re look­ing at enroll­ment and … teacher-student ratio, … (the board) felt that it was … time to do a com­pre­hen­sive study.”

This isn’t the first time the issue of clos­ing Meeme has arisen. In Novem­ber 1981, a Citizen’s Advi­sory Board was formed to review the district’s enroll­ment. After its analy­sis, the advi­sory board voted in 1982 to keep Meeme open, and the school board accepted the recommendation.

Meeme, which opened in 1964–65, became a char­ter school in 2005. Enroll­ment at the school had been declin­ing and the prin­ci­pal at that time thought becom­ing a char­ter school would pro­vide an oppor­tu­nity for the school to offer more indi­vid­u­al­ized pro­gram­ming, Blanken­heim said.

For those who don’t know the geog­ra­phy of the Kiel Area School Dis­tirct, Meeme is located about four miles west of Cleve­land on Man­i­towoc CTH XX, just off of Wis­con­sin State High­way 42.  Ziela­nis is located inside the City of Kiel, about 10 to 11 miles west of Meeme.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the bor­der which sep­a­rated rural KASD house­holds into those who sent their chil­dren to Meeme and Ziela­nis was Man­i­towoc CTH A, which more or less runs through the mid­dle of the dis­trict. My boy­hood home was just west of CTH A.

In the early 90s, just as I was set to start 5th grade and going to Kiel Mid­dle School, the school board at the time sug­gested mov­ing the bor­der west to Lax Chapel Road, some three miles away.  The plan at the time was to bulk up Meeme’s enroll­ment num­bers which even back then were in decline.  The idea was even­tu­ally scut­tled after peo­ple like my par­ents — who still had my two younger broth­ers in ele­men­tary school — and oth­ers in my neigh­bor­hood rose up to protest the move because they didn’t wish to change ele­men­tary schools mid­way through for their kids.

So the debate as to what will hap­pen to Meeme has been on-going and con­stant for the peo­ple of Kiel, School Hill, Meeme, Spring Val­ley, Osman, and other rural areas in the dis­trict.  Those closer to Kiel feel the school has out­lived its pur­pose.  While those closer to the school feel a loy­alty to it, and feel that Kiel is too far away com­pared to nearby places (and schools) like Howards Grove, Man­i­towoc, Valders, and Sheboygan.

(A lit­tle dirty secret / rumor about the ori­gins of Meeme is that it was set up by the Kiel Area School Dis­trict not as a way to serve the rural areas, but as a way to cheat in estab­lish­ing its school dis­trict bor­ders.  With Meeme that far away from Kiel proper, but still a Kiel school, the dis­trict was able to expand its bor­ders to cover the sur­round­ing areas.  This had sig­nif­i­cant effect on the abil­ity for Howards Grove to go north, Valders to expand south, and all but forced Cleve­land into the She­boy­gan Area School Dis­trict.  For instance, did you know that Meeme Ele­men­tary School is actu­ally closer [7 miles] to Howards Grove than it is to Kiel [10 miles]?)

What is hap­pen­ing with Meeme is a real­ity of what is hap­pen­ing across the coun­try.  With peo­ple hav­ing less and less kids, it is forc­ing many school dis­tricts across not only Wis­con­sin to recon­sider the need of some of their build­ings, but also whether the need to hire new teach­ers is war­ranted.  (This is begin­ning to wreck havoc with WEAC and other “More Money for Schools Now!” sup­port­ers, and will utterly col­lapse much of their argu­ment in the com­ing decades.)

With­out as many kids in schools — just because there aren’t as many kids — it is going to cause per pupil num­bers (i.e. in class­room size, teacher to pupil ratios, and per capita spend­ing) to fluc­tu­ate like never before.  Want to see what a state where the aver­age per stu­dent spend­ing is $25,000 a kid?  Wait a few years with the demo­graphic growth we’re under and that will be Wis­con­sin just because there are less and less kids to spread the money around to.

Peo­ple who are crunch­ing the num­bers know all this.  Why do you think the UW-Madison does at its “Applied Pop­u­la­tion Lab­o­ra­tory” anyway?

The real ques­tion going for­ward is what do the pol­i­cy­mak­ers and law­mak­ers do with this knowl­edge and what will those com­mit­ted to the sta­tus quo do with it as well.  For years, groups like WEAC have been scream­ing about things like SAGE based on the belief that there would be more and more kids, and thus the need for more and more teach­ers.  We’re on a path, where the oppo­site is more likely to happen.

So the ques­tion now is, why are groups like WEAC still being lis­tened to when to comes to “the right amount of school financ­ing” when clearly the num­bers are begin­ning to show us all some­thing com­pletely different?

Leave a Comment

Illinois: Worst Credit Rating in the Nation

Believe the real news about this announce­ment is two things.

1) Illi­nois is about to issue $500 mil­lion in new bonds as part of the bud­get plans of Demo­c­ra­tic Gov­er­nor Pat Quinn — the lamest duck gov­er­nor in the coun­try.  This news will only effect the sale of them.

2) The Land of Lin­coln barely dodged the bul­let from drop­ping from an “A-level rated bond” to a “B-level rated bond.”

Illi­nois may have Chicago act­ing as a jobs mag­net to puff up its num­bers, but its rela­tion­ship with its pub­lic employee unions is the dark mir­ror of what Wis­con­sin has done since the enact­ment of Act 10.  Its bud­get is in chaos and a live-action train wreck for all the world to see.

Illi­nois fell to the bot­tom of all 50 states in the rank­ings of a major credit rat­ings agency Fri­day fol­low­ing the fail­ure of Gov. Pat Quinn and law­mak­ers to fix the state’s hem­or­rhag­ing pen­sion sys­tem dur­ing this month’s lame-duck session.

Stan­dard & Poor’s Rat­ings Ser­vice down­graded Illi­nois in what is the lat­est fall­out over the $96.8 bil­lion debt to five state pen­sion sys­tems. The New York rat­ing firm’s rank­ing sig­naled tax­pay­ers may pay tens of mil­lions of dol­lars more in inter­est when the state bor­rows money for roads and other projects.

It’s absolutely bad news for tax­pay­ers,” said Dan Ruther­ford, the Repub­li­can state trea­surer.
Illi­nois received its bottom-of-the-pack rank­ing when it fell from an “A” rat­ing to “A-minus.”

That’s the same rat­ing as Cal­i­for­nia, but Cal­i­for­nia has a pos­i­tive out­look. Illi­nois’ frag­ile over­all finan­cial sta­tus net­ted it a neg­a­tive out­look, putting it behind Cal­i­for­nia over­all. The rat­ings came out now because Illi­nois plans to issue $500 mil­lion in bonds within days.

Exactly how much Illi­nois’ credit-rating slide ulti­mately will cost tax­pay­ers is unknown until the demand for the state’s bonds is mea­sured in the mar­kets. But Ruther­ford esti­mated the state will pay $95 mil­lion more in inter­est than if Illi­nois had a AAA rat­ing, which is much higher.

Even before the down­grade was revealed, Quinn said in Chicago the “pres­sure is higher than ever” to solve the pen­sion prob­lem because “credit rat­ing agen­cies are scream­ing at the top of their voice” for final action.


One other omi­nous point in the Stan­dard & Poor’s report is that inac­tion could lead to down­grad­ing Illi­nois to “BBB,” an “unusual” low rat­ing for any state. The agency noted a “lack of action on pen­sion reform and upcom­ing bud­get chal­lenges could result in fur­ther credit deterioration.”

Most states will build reserves when the econ­omy is per­form­ing well, and that typ­i­cally pro­vides a cush­ion when the rev­enues dete­ri­o­rate,” said Robin Prunty, the S&P ana­lyst who heads the agency’s state rat­ings group. “But Illi­nois has never really car­ried or accu­mu­lated any kind of bud­getary reserves.”

Not sur­pris­ingly, they has been called to deal with pen­sions a mul­ti­tude of times by both Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans in Illi­nois.  Also not sur­pris­ingly, the  state’s pub­lic employee unions have claimed any attempts to change the cur­rent pen­sion sys­tem is uncon­sti­tu­tional and would be fought tooth and nail.

Illi­nois has cre­ated this hell, it is now time for them to burn in it.

Leave a Comment

Teen Smoking Hits All-Time Low in Wisconsin

Good news, but is it a pyrrhic vic­tory for future state budgets?

Wis­con­sin health offi­cials say smok­ing by mid­dle and high school stu­dents has dropped to an all-time low.

The 2012 Wis­con­sin Youth Tobacco Sur­vey, released Mon­day, found that 13% of high school­ers say they smoke and 2.5% of mid­dle school­ers admit to smok­ing. The last study in 2010 showed nearly 18% of high schooner and nearly 4% of mid­dle schooler smoked.

The sur­vey is done by the Wis­con­sin Depart­ment of Health Ser­vices and the Wis­con­sin Depart­ment of Pub­lic Instruction.

The 2012 fig­ures con­trast sharply with 2000, when 33% of high school stu­dents and 12% of mid­dle school stu­dents said they smoked.

Admit­tedly, it’s a sur­vey, so you could have some lying going on.

The rea­son I bring up future state bud­gets, keep in mind, the for­mer Doyle bud­gets — espe­cially the 2009–2011 state bud­get — were built on mas­sive tax increases on tobacco sales.

If those are going to be lim­ited in the near-future, I got to admit, what­ever white paper the Leg­isla­tive Fis­cal Bureau is going to issue in the com­ing months on that rev­enue source will be an inter­est­ing one to read.

Leave a Comment

JFC">30 Pieces of Silver Paid in Full, Wirch Gets Spot on JFC

The biggest shock here isn’t that Wirch is on Joint Finance.

It’s that incom­ing minor­ity leader Chris Lar­son (D-Milwaukee) bounced off Lena Tay­lor (D-Milwaukee) to put Wirch on and decided to keep La Crosse’s Jen Shilling — who was a main­stay dur­ing her Assem­bly days — on instead.

A Demo­c­ra­tic sen­a­tor said to have changed his vote for his party’s leader snagged a cov­eted appoint­ment Wednes­day on the Legislature’s pow­er­ful bud­get committee.

Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Somers) and Sen. Jen­nifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) were cho­sen to serve on the Joint Finance Com­mit­tee by incom­ing Sen­ate Minor­ity Leader Chris Lar­son (D-Milwaukee). Ear­lier this month, Lar­son beat his Demo­c­ra­tic col­league Jon Erpen­bach of Mid­dle­ton in a race for minor­ity leader.

After the vote, Erpenbach’s back­ers con­cluded Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) had voted for Lar­son after say­ing he would vote for Erpen­bach. One of them had noticed Wirch had folded his bal­lot mul­ti­ple times and was able to tell which bal­lot was cast by Wirch after the fact.

Justin Sar­gent, Larson’s chief of staff, said that the Mil­wau­kee Demo­c­rat hadn’t con­sid­ered the recent lead­er­ship vote in decid­ing on the com­mit­tee appoint­ments. Shilling, who had run for assis­tant minor­ity leader and lost to Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), was seen as being aligned with Erpenbach.

Under the soon-to-be replaced leg­is­la­ture, Tay­lor is the cur­rent co-chair of Joint Finance with soon-to-be Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington).  What exactly did she do to Lar­son to not only lose her senior­ity from the com­mit­tee, but to be bounced completely.

There’s got to be a story behind that right there.  Is it because the two don’t get along — a the­ory I don’t buy — or because the two faced off against each other in the pri­maries of Mil­wau­kee Assem­bly Dis­tricts where Lar­son (and WEAC) was seek­ing to replace many African Amer­i­can incum­bents who Tay­lor was close with?

It’s prob­a­bly the lat­ter, but the truth is, we’ll never know.  He’s only has two spots to fill, and prob­a­bly has a litany of rea­sons not to give each and every mem­ber of his cau­cus a spot on Joint Finance.

Comments (2)

7M into Rainy Day Fund">State Deposits $108.7M into Rainy Day Fund

Admit­tedly, it’s not a lot of money, but it’s more money that has been going in there for years — if not the past decade.

It is indeed work­ing Wis­con­sin.  We’d be fool­ish to go back to the old ways of union monop­o­liza­tion of work rules which cost this mil­lions of dol­lars on unnec­es­sary and some­times ridicu­lous conditions.

Gov. Scott Walker is tout­ing the deposit of nearly $109 mil­lion into the state’s rainy day fund, money that can be tapped in an emergency.

The deposit announced Mon­day comes after the state ended the last fis­cal year in June with a sur­plus of about $342 mil­lion. Even though it is less than 1 per­cent of what is spent out of the state’s main account every year, it is the largest deposit ever into the rainy day fund. It marks the sec­ond year in a row that a deposit has been made.

Walker says “we remain com­mit­ted to mak­ing the tough deci­sions nec­es­sary to avoid tax increases while main­tain­ing services.”

He says his pri­or­i­ties for the next two-year bud­get include cre­at­ing jobs, devel­op­ing the work­force, reform­ing gov­ern­ment and trans­form­ing education.

Walker will unveil his new bud­get in late 2012 or early 2013.  Cur­rently, state agen­cies are send­ing the governor’s their 2013–15 spend­ing requests.

Leave a Comment

Who Paid for the “Wisconsin 14’s” Trip to Illinois?

The MacIver gang is not let­ting it go, and with the silence com­ing from all four­teen Democ­rats, the truth could have the poten­tial of being the biggest cam­paign finance scan­dal in Wis­con­sin history.

I recall talk­ing to a friend in Madi­son as this all broke out and remarked there was no way some­one like Chris Lar­son (I used Lar­son as an exam­ple since he’s young (29), recently mar­ried, and with­out much sav­ings) could afford to stay in Illi­nois long with­out tap­ping into some form of cam­paign fund.

This friend replied with a more sullen answer: None of them can.


Comments (2)