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Increasing Funding for Voucher and Charter Schools Comes at a Big Cost

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New estimate by LFB shows funding parity price tag is over $100M

ALMA, WI - For many years, voucher and charter school advocates sought funding parity while rural schools struggle to stay open. Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) responded to a new analysis done by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau pegging the parity price tag at over $100M.

 

Senator Kathleen Vinehout commented, “I cannot sit idly by while voucher and charter school advocates ask for more money when my rural public schools can barely afford the basics.”

 





Breaking News - DeVos confirmed

Betsy DeVos was just confirmed to head the Department of Education. As expected, the senate vote was a 50-50 tie, and Vice President Pence voted yes to break the tie. The senate is now moving forward on other confirmation votes.





School Funding: It’s about More than Money

bySenator Kathleen Vinehout “Public education in Wisconsin should provide high quality learning for ALL children no matter who they are or where they live,” Eau Claire School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle recently told me. Chris and education leaders across the state read with interest details of the Governor’s plan for our next state budget. Governor Walker gave money to a number of new initiatives and reaped the praise of some education leaders. The plan picks and chooses among various proposals advanced over the last few years. Some new programs are funded and some existing programs get more money.





Paul Ryan Defends Trump - sort of

On this morning's NBC NEWS' Meet The Press with Chuck Todd Paul Ryan defended the position of the president on many issues, with just enough pull-back to make himself sound sane. It is interesting to watch the line that Republicans are treading at the moment as they need to defend the antics of the increasingly erratic president while remaining loyal to their party and still looking like they are the adults in the room. He starts by back-tracking on the Iran sanctions

CHUCK TODD:

Speaker Ryan, welcome back to Meet The Press.

PAUL RYAN:

Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:





The alternative to Scott Walker's Budget

Scott Walker is gearing up to present his new budget, which will be more of the same predictable stuff - tax cuts to the rich, small amounts of money to schools and broadband, which will only slightly make up for previous gutting of these items, and more.

We need to remind ourselves that there are alternatives.  Citizen Action of Wisconsin has an alternative budget for all, which you can read at the link below. It is a big shift in priorities from what we are doing now. I am including a video of Dr. Rober Kraig at Citizen Action, where he explains what went into making this alternative budget.





Scott Walker - Abuser

I used to have a friend who was in a terrible abusive relationship. Several times her boyfriend put her in the hospital, once having broken several bones in her face. Despite the pleas of all of her friends to leave this guy, she stayed. I'm not finding fault with her, lots of women in this situation stay, with a number of different reasons, though I suspect in her case it was a matter of astoundingly low self-esteem.





Progressive Talk Radio in Wisconsin

Progressive Talk Radio returned to Wisconsin yesterday.

Mike Crute, one of the hosts of Devil's Advocates, recently purchased 1510 AM in the Milwaukee area, changing the format from Spanish-Language Sports to all-talk progressive radio. The station has limited coverage in the state (mostly the Milwaukee area) but is available via live stream everywhere.

A great deal of encouragement for this came from the in Milwaukee, which has been monitoring right-wing talk radio in the Milwaukee area for some time now.





Hmm -- Indivisible Guide web site is down

Update --- Seems to be back up and running --- good deal.

I note that the Indivisible Guide seems to also be Invisible at the moment.  Their site is failing in ways that would lead me to believe that either they are just being overwhelmed with traffic or that they are under a DDOS attack.   SO --- if you need a copy of the guilde I DID just download a fresh version a couple of hours ago which you can download .





Who Has Been Watching Spending at DOT?

BySenator Kathleen Vinehout “Let me see how much you spent,” my mother said when I returned from the store. As the oldest of five children, I was often sent to the store to buy groceries. When I returned home, my mother checked the grocery bag, the receipt and counted the change. I knew I could buy no more than exactly what was on her list. She knew how much everything should cost. I needed to answer for every penny I spent. Everything needed to add up. This simple accountability seems to be completely missing at our Department of transportation (DOT). My mother has now gone to live with the angels.





Trump Resistance in Wisconsin

I am starting a new Storify article on the Trump resistance in WIscosnin --- this may be a long one.





Audits Raise Cautions about Pension Fund Management

BySenator Kathleen Vinehout “GOOD NEWS” read the text with a short article about how our pension funds grew 8.5%. My friend forwarded the article with a cryptic note, “apparently the lies keep working.” In what seems to me to be an effort to get ahead of a bad story, the agency responsible for investing almost $100 billion in pension funds – the largest single pot of money anywhere in state government - issued a press release touting an 8.5% increase in its core fund. As radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story. Yes, things are better in 2016. However, in 2015, the state pension funds lost money. An increase over a loss is good but not nearly as good as continual year-to-year growth.





Alternative to the inauguration

I know a lot of you are looking for something else to do today to avoid watching the coronation of our new president. 

a.  The Esquire Channel, if you happen to be able to get it, is showing a marathon of Parks and Recreation.

b. You can watch coverage of the protests in Washington on Democracy Now! - -- though it looks like their live feed is having a little trouble keeping up with the demand.





NO COMMENT

Remember back when we were embarrassed every time we met someone outside of the US because we had elected George W. Bush as president?  Good Times, Good Times. This is from the Scottish Sunday Herald TV listings. Click on the image to make it bigger.





School Visit to the “ARCTIC Zone” Prompts Thinking Anew about Education

BySenator Kathleen Vinehout Two six-graders recently showed me around their classrooms. Desks were not in straight rows. Students were not waiting their turn with raised hands. I looked around the room. There actually were no desks at all, but tables and different types of chairs. One student was actually writing on a table with a red marker. I must have looked aghast. The table was designed to be written on, teacher Ali McMahon told me. “We use the table as a way to think out complex ideas,” she said. With a white board tabletop everyone sees the ideas and adds to them. I recently visited Northstar Middle School in Eau Claire. My first contact with students and teacher at the school was in the hallway.





Healthcare Rally in Eau Claire

More than 200 attended the health care rally this afternoon in Eau Claire. The rally was organized by the Citizen Action Organizing Co-op of Western Wisconsin. Several people spoke on behalf of maintaining the ACA or an equivalent, including Rep. Dana Wachs. The crowd was spirited and strongly in support of strengthening the ACA rather than eliminating it. This rally was one of many across the nation today in support of affordable and accessible health care for all. I think the current administration will find it difficult to tell their constitutents that they are taking away the benefits of the ACA that go to people purchasing insurance on the health care exchanges, people on Medicare, and everyone else in the insurance market. 





DNR scrubs away climate change

I highly recommend following James Rowen's web site, The Political Environment. He has been following the continuing saga of the state DNR's changes to their web site, in which they have scrubbed the site of mentions of humans causing climate change. The DNR has stated that their mission is to manage state "adaptation" to climate change, rather than actually researching the cause, or -- you know, doing anything about  stopping or slowing it. Most recently it turns out that at for the change, because they pressured the DNR to stop taking an "activist" role on climate change.





New DNR Report: Who Should Pay to Protect and Encourage Fish and Wildlife?

BySenator Kathleen Vinehout Wisconsin is number one in hunting! Don’t take it from me. The Department of Natural Resources has studies to back it up. A new DNR report noted Wisconsin had the number one Boone and Crockett Trophy whitetail entries from 2005-2010 and the number one black beer harvest of all states. Wisconsinites hunt deer at nearly three times the US rate and fist at twice the US rate.





What it is like to be a new legislator

What it is Like to be a New LegislatorBySenator Kathleen Vinehout “Good morning, Senator,” said a Capitol staffer. It took me a moment to realize the man was talking to me. That was ten years ago. This week fifteen new lawmakers raised their right hand and swore to uphold the Constitution. They celebrated with a day of family, photos and receptions. I recall how exciting the day was and how that excitement quickly turned to the daunting challenge of adjusting to my new role of Senator. Following Election Day, the new legislators-elect attend orientation sessions, which provide vital information relating to all aspects of the Legislature. I remember thinking there was too much information packed into a few days.





Looking forward to the challenges of 2017

by

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

The turn of the calendar to 2017 brings us hope for better prospects in our public affairs. I am particularly inspired this season for the many who wrote with solutions to problems facing our state.

 

The many letters from readers gives me optimism for a coming bloom of civic mindedness. Certainly your notes and letters bring a fresh approach to lingering problems.

 

I do see signs on the horizon that our state may be stumbling.

 





Scotty Walker sends Santa a letter

Apparently Scott Walker has gotten word that the old Obama Grinch is about ready to be replaced by a new, happy, Jolly Old St. Nick - and he's written a letter asking for presents. Lots of presents. Presents for Wisconsin. 

Lots of drug tests for people who need a hand because -- well, okay, I have to admit I just don't understand that one at all, but maybe the new Santa in town does. 

Higher costs for people on Medicaid who "Purposely increase their health risks" - but only if they're really poor. New Santa probably will like this - rich kids are the only ones to get the good presents. It's the modern equivalent of getting a lump of coal because you live in the wrong neighborhood.





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