Mt. Horeb Area Assembly Rep. Sondy Pope, with constituents Cindy Johnson and Tim White at the daily sing along. Photo by and thanks to Lisa Wells.
"Our often absent Governor is again out of the state he was elected to serve as he flits from fundraiser to fundraiser trying to build the case for his own presidential aspirations. Meanwhile back home he has left his Capitol Police Chief, David Erwin, with a questionably hefty pay increase and orders to silence the voices of the last vestiges of his open opposition, the Solidarity Singers. The Republican Legislators continue to move his radical agenda forward as they avoid hearings on meaningful redistricting legislation, push for even more voter suppression, fail to create much-needed family sustaining jobs, continue their war on women, deny healthcare, and divert education funds to private schools. Despite the grim circumstances, I look forward to an opportunity to bring change to Wisconsin in the next election. We must continue to move forward and the ballot is the vehicle of change. Keep talking, keep singing, and let's be the change we want in Wisconsin."
(MADISON) Representative Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains) and Representative Fred Clark (D-Sauk City) released the following statement regarding the rumored budget deal struck by Republican legislative leaders and Governor Walker for Wisconsin’s schools.
“Expanding the unaccountable private school voucher program statewide is an ideologically driven decision that does not help improve the educational outcomes of Wisconsin students,” said Rep. Pope. “As recent peer-reviewed evidence has demonstrated (link), the ‘gold-standard’ studies we have relied upon to make decisions about the voucher program do not even begin to tell the whole story. If we were truly interested in improving student outcomes and helping drive achievement, we would be closing the failing schools already participating in the Milwaukee and Racine voucher programs.”
“It’s sad to think that for the last four months, while the fourth graders have been visiting the capitol to learn about open government and our citizen legislature, well-paid lobbyists like former speakers John Gard and Jeff Fitzgerald were cutting deals behind closed doors to grease the skids for private, for-profit schools,” Rep. Clark said. “How are Republican legislators going to go back to their districts and explain to their voters that they caved to special interests and private schools instead of increasing support for their community schools?”
“We have the opportunity to begin to restore the $1.6 billion that was taken from our public schools during the last budget,” continued Rep. Pope. “This decision is about priorities and it is clear that the Republican leadership would rather continue to grow the subsidy the state provides to private schools than the help the public schools that educate all of our children.”
“This is no deal for Public schools,” said Rep. Clark. “This is the continuation of a downward spiral for public education that is destroying the fabric of Wisconsin communities. And it is especially tragic because it's so reckless, and completely avoidable. Our kids deserve better than to have their own schools essentially sold off to the highest bidders.”
Rep. Sondy Pope
From SWWAP Area Represenative Sondy Pope. To see a "Report Card" for any School District in the State, Go to http://reportcards.dpi.wi.gov/rc_districts
Governor Walker’s Budget Released:
On February 20th, Governor Walker presented his budget proposal to the State Legislature. The biennial budget is the largest and most important bill the legislature will take up during the two year session. Deciding how Wisconsin’s taxpayer dollars are spent is usually a contentious process, but it gives the public a clear view of the priorities of our elected officials. The Governor’s 2013-15 proposed budget contains over $67 billion dollars of spending which is more than a billion dollars more that was spent over the 2011-13 budget, As we move further into the process I want to hear from constituents on what issues you think are the most important. Right now, the budget is still being evaluated by our non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB). In the meantime, the Department of Administration has prepared a brief summary (see link below) broken down by affected subject areas. Please be cautious using these documents as they are prepared by the Department of Administration (DOA) and are not necessarily complete or 100% accurate:
I will be making an effort to keep you apprised of the budget process through these newsletters. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Racing toward school privatization:
Included in the Governor’s proposed budget is an increase and expansion of funding for private school vouchers. An additional $94 million dollars is allocated to increase per pupil voucher school payments, create a statewide special needs voucher program and expand the voucher program to any school district that meeting the following criteria:
• More than 4,000 students enrolled
• Two schools identified as "failing to meet expectations" or "meeting few expectations" on the new Wisconsin school report cards
• Have 20 pupils from the district indicate they intend to participate
For more information, please see my guest op-ed in the Capitol Times
Q: Would it have cost Wisconsin any additional money this biennium to expand Medicaid?
A: No. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal government would have paid 100 percent of the cost for an expansion to Medicaid for the first three years (2014-2016) and no less than 90 percent after 2016. There is no language forbidding states from capturing federal dollars from 2014 to 2016 and dropping coverage thereafter for cost concerns. Additionally, under the current model, the federal government pays 60 percent for Medicaid and states pick up the rest.
The Office of the State Treasurer handles unclaimed property for the state. Last year, in the 80th Assembly District alone, there was over $1 million returned to more than 900 people. If you feel that you might have unclaimed property, you can search the State Treasurer’s website by following the link provided below: https://statetreasury.wisconsin.gov/UCPWeb/ucpsearch.aspx
March is Music in our Schools Month!
Music is an integral part of a complete education that helps many young children grow academically and personally. The arts need our continued support, and those participating in school arts programs deserve congratulations and appreciation. Many students will be getting the chance to perform concerts at the Wisconsin State Capitol over the next month to celebrate Music in our Schools Month. Here is a list of the dates and schools participating: http://www.wmea.com/index.php?module=cms&page=60