Act 10 Success Diminishes Recall Effort

An accurate assessment of the recall picture.

As communities continue to provide Act 10 success stories, the efforts of recall organizers against Governor Walker become more difficult. And with tax bills arriving soon, the positive results for Wisconsin taxpayers will make those recall efforts even more ominous.

Governor Walker’s reforms have produced some stunning results, turning a budget around that was structurally unsound. School districts and communities throughout the state are in much better financial shape due to the moves undertaken by the Walker administration. The following results were tabulated by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, based on responses from over 83% of all school districts:

  • New teacher hires outnumber layoffs by 1213 positions
  • 75% of districts maintained or decreased class sizes for K-3
  • 67% of districts maintained or decreased class sizes for 4-6
  • 92% of districts kept or expanded sports programs
  • 89% of districts kept or expanded technology support staff
  • 85% or more kept or increased their guidance, social work, and psychology staff
  • 90% of districts kept or expanded gifted and talented staff
  • 96% of districts kept or expanded early childhood staff
  • 96% of districts kept or expanded AP sections and courses
  • 82% of districts kept or expanded vocational/technical programs
  • 82% of districts kept or expanded art programs
  • 84% of districts kept or expanded music programs
  • 87% of districts kept or expanded foreign language programs

Even more telling though were the results from three districts from Southern Wisconsin that didn’t implement the reform tools.

The most telling results of the WASDA survey came from responses by the Milwaukee, Kenosha and Janesville districts. Those districts accounted for 68% of all teacher layoffs in the state, yet only represent 12.8% of Wisconsin students. These three districts did not adopt the reforms put in place by Governor Walker and Act 10, and were not able to utilize the tools offered to control costs.

So when you see the ads put out by recall organizers, liberal 3rd party groups and public sector unions keep in mind their “information” to support their claims comes from districts that didn’t utilize the tools offered via Act 10.

As pointed out, the whole picture isn’t presented:

If they were honest, they would discuss how 51% of districts reduced extracurricular programs in 2004 (according to WEAC), before Act 10 tools were available. Or the fact that over the past five years, the property tax levy has increased by an average of $181 million per year. Not so this year, as the K-12 school tax levy will actually decrease by $47 million.

Be sure to point out these successes when you encounter those pushing to recall Governor Scott Walker.  In any discussion about the direction of Wisconsin point out not only how Act 10 has been a success, point out as well the results being seen where the tools offered weren’t implemented.

 

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Madison Schools Facing $12.4 Million Deficit

Stark reality for the Madison School District for next school year.

Superintendent Dan Nerad won’t make his preliminary budget recommendations until April 1, but in its first look at the 2012-13 school budget, the district is projecting a $12.4 million deficit based on current budget trends.

Factoring in rising insurance and fuel costs, the district projects general fund spending of $319.7 million, up from $310.9 million this year. Revenues are projected to be $307.3 million.

The district is looking at several options to close the gap, such as eliminating its most expensive health insurance option, renegotiating nonunion employee contracts, energy efficiency projects, refinancing debt and raising property taxes, said Erik Kass, assistant superintendent for business services.

But the district doesn’t want to do what other districts around the state have done – have employees contribute more to their health insurance premiums.

One way Madison expects to close its $12.4 million deficit this year is to eliminate Wisconsin Physicians Service as an insurance provider, which would save about $5 million. Madison Teachers Inc. agreed to that option as part of the current contract.

The union also agreed to pay up to 15 percent of the premium for the other three insurance options, Group Health Cooperative, Dean and Physicians Plus. But Madison didn’t exercise that option last year and might not have to this year, Kass said.

The 15 percent contribution would generate up to $7.5 million in savings, but would cost teachers up to about $900 for a single plan and $2,700 for a family plan. Most other districts around the state had employees pay more toward premiums last year.

MTI executive director John Matthews said an average teacher is already losing about $2,600 in take-home pay because of the pension contribution. Not having to contribute to health insurance premiums would be “a huge relief.”

“Many employees were forced to reduce their standard of living, many are having financial problems, some unable to afford college tuition and some are unable to qualify for mortgage to enable home purchase,” Matthews wrote in an email.

School Board President James Howard said asking employees to contribute more than what they do now would be a “double whammy” because they also are affected by property tax increases. But the board may look at ways to spread out the budget’s impact.

Why can’t employees in the Madison school district do what private sector employees have been doing during the current economic downturn?  Why should they not have to make adjustments in their standard of living and pay more?

Instead the Madison Metropolitan School District thinks it is better to raise taxes to cover the shortfall.  To not exercise options that the union agreed to is absurd.  But then again it was also absurd to agree to new contracts with the unions last year before Act 10 became law.

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WEA Trust Holding Federal Funds Hostage

This is ridiculous on the part of a UNION-formed health insurance company.

Federal funds are being withheld from Wisconsin school districts that dropped a health insurer connected with the state’s largest teachers union. Now, the WEA Trust is asking a federal court to rule that its move is okay. The WEA Trust received $18-million from the government’s Early Retiree Re-insurance Program. It’s designed to off-set the costs of providing insurance for early retirees. School officials who’ve dropped the WEA Trust say the money belongs to all public districts – and at least 14 of them are reportedly considering lawsuits to get a share of that funding. The WEA Trust told school systems that the funds would be given out as premium credits – thus forcing them to stay on with the insurance firm to get the money. But many districts have opted for cheaper plans as a result of the state law which took away much of the teachers’ unions’ bargaining powers. One superintendent, Glenn Schilling of Hartland-Lakeside, said the district and its law firm will decide by Friday whether to proceed with a lawsuit.

This money is owed to the school districts and the fact WEA Trust is holding it hostage is very troubling.  Perhaps this is another example of how it really isn’t all about the children for leadership of public union entities.

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Few Complain About School Board Member in Walker Ad

For all the media coverage regarding this ad,

there were few actual complaints to the Waukesha School Board.

Only 22 people contacted the Waukesha School Board and District about a board member’s appearance in a Governor Walker ad, and many of them were not Waukesha residents according to information gleaned from an open records request filed by the MacIver News Service.

Not surprisingly some members of the school board complained.

On November 29, the school board’s policy committee discussed the ad. The committee consists of Rajnicek and her fellow board members Ellen Langill, and Barbara Brzenk.

Langill demanded a public apology from Rajnicek for breaking a Waukesha School Board policy (Number 8300) that states board members may not represent the school board without permission. Rajnicek did not apologize.

At the time of that meeting, the district had received ten to 12 complaints.  (Two complaints did not include any identifying information or date). Only four were from Waukesha residents, and three of them were former teachers or education professionals.

Following the meeting ten more complaints were received, the majority of them supporting Karin.

After the November 29 meeting and the subsequent media attention it received, the District only received emails from another ten people about the ad and seven of them supported Rajnicek. Six of the emails were from Waukesha residents; of those, four supported Rajnicek and two criticized her.

Robert Kohl, Waukesha resident, wrote “As a citizen and a taxpayer of Waukesha school district, I will not tolerate the constant drumbeat of harassment that seems to greet anyone who supports Gov. Walker.”

Chad Vendette, Waukesha resident, wrote “They may think you do not speak for them, but I can assure you Ms. Rajnicek, you DO speak for us, the Taxpayers of Waukesha County.”

Kurt Burie, another Waukesha resident, wrote “Based on your attempt to admonish Mrs. Rajnicek for her support of Gov. Walker, I will assume that you are against the collective bargaining reforms so I will not be voting for you in the next election.”

So what are the chances these supportive comments will be publicized by the MSM?

 

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