Posts Tagged ‘Gov. Scott Walker’
Public employee unions and other liberals are confident that Wisconsin voters will tur;i out Governor Scott Walker in a recall election later this year, but not so fast. Theft may turn out to be as wrong as some of their other predictions as Badger State taxpayers start to see tangible benefits from Mr. Walker’s reforms—such as the first decline in statewide property taxes in a dozen years.
On Monday Mr. Walker’s office released new data that show the property tax bill for the median home fell by 0.4% in 2011, as reported by Wisconsin’s municipalities. Property taxes, which are the state’s largest revenue source and mainly fund K-12 schools, have risen every year since 1998—by 43% overall. The state budget office estimates that the typical homeowner’s bill would be some $700 higher without Mr. Walker’s collective-bargaining overhaul and budget cuts.
The median home value did fall in 2011, by about 2.3%, which no doubt influenced the slight downward trend. But then values also fell in 2009 and 2010, by similar amounts, andstill climbed by 2.1% and 1.5%, respectively. In absolute terms homeowners won’t see large dollar benefits year over year, but any hold-the-line tax respite is both rare and welcome in this age of ever-expanding government.
The real gains will grow as local school districts continue repairing and rationalizing their budgets using the tools Mr. Walker gave them. Those include the ability to renegotiate perk-filled teacher contracts and requiring government workers to contribute more than 0% to their pensions. A year ago amid their sit-ins and other protests, the unions said such policies would lead to the decline and fall of civilization, but the only things that are falling are tax collections.
The political lesson is that attempts to modernize government are always controversial, but support usually builds over time as the public comes to appreciate the benefits of structural change that tames the drivers of a status quo that includes ever-higher spending and taxes. The Wisconsin recall donnybrook in June will test whether voters value their own bottom lines more than the political power of the Unions.
Posted by Jim Hoft on Thursday, April 5, 2012, 5:55 AM
Last February THOUSANDS of Tea Party Patriots turned out in Madison, Wisconsin, in support of Republican Governor Scott Walker. It was an amazing turnout considering the Saturday rally was only announced on Friday morningThe tea party patriots filled the state capital grounds from the steps to the street over 100 yards back. There were so many Walker supporters there that you couldn’t hear the speakers from the stage in the back of the crowd.
Next week we’re doing it again…
Show Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that he has support by coming out to the Wisconsin Tax Day Rally at the Capitol on Saturday April 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Confirmed Speakers Include:
Fox News Contributor – James T. Harris
Conservative Talk Show Host – Vicki McKenna
Big Journalism.com – Dana Loesch
Gateway Pundit – Jim Hoft
PJTV – Stephen Kruiser
Nashville Recording Artist – Krista Branch
AFP WI State Director – Luke Hilgemann
Invited Speakers Include:
Governor Sarah Palin – Invited
Actor Jon Voight – Invited
NRO & Fox News – Jonah Goldberg – Invited
Navy Seal Team 8 – Chris Mark Heben – Invited
By Don Walker and Mike Johnson of the Journal Sentinel
Gov. Scott Walker has ordered the Wisconsin State Patrol to provide additional law enforcement help at the Wisconsin State Fair after several incidents involving rampaging youths broke out on the fairgrounds and on the streets outside Thursday night.
Cullen Werwie, Walker’s spokesman, said the governor made the decision after reviewing the events from Thursday night, in which at least 24 people were arrested.
“We will continue to evaluate the situation and make any adjustments necessary to ensure a successful and safe event. We will be doing everything in our power to ensure that parents feel that it is safe to bring their children to the world’s best fair,” Werwie said in a statement.
Also, Rick Frenette, CEO of the fair, announced that, because of the violence overnight, the fair would immediately implement a policy in which no youths under 18 years of age would be allowed onto the grounds after 5 p.m. without a parent or guardian who is at least 21 years of age.
Frenette, a veteran of 40 years in the fair management business, said he had never implemented such a policy before.
On Friday, police from three jurisdictions – West Allis, Milwaukee and Wisconsin State Fair – were spending Friday piecing together a series of incidents late Thursday night at the Wisconsin State Fair in which large groups of youths rampaged through the midway and outside the grounds after closing. At least 24 were arrested, and seven officers were hurt, a State Fair official said.
The incidents at the fair also caused confusion among police agencies. Anne E. Schwartz, the Milwaukee police spokeswoman, said West Allis police did not request mutual aid from the Milwaukee Police Department.
Schwartz said Milwaukee police responded to four incidents connected to the fair incidents, but those came from citizens calling police directly. She said one person was arrested by Milwaukee police on a warrant.
Officials could not say what started what witnesses said was a series of racially charged incidents that apparently began as early as 7 p.m. in the midway. The midway is located just east of the Pettit National Ice Center and adjacent to the Hank Aaron Bike Trail.
Milwaukee police confirmed there were assaults outside the fair as the fair was closing down. The fair closes at 11 p.m.
A State Fair official said most of those arrested were cited for disorderly conduct.
Police at all three jurisdictions declined to provide additional information Friday morning about what happened, when and where. Police said they were gathering multiple reports from various locations at the fair in order to determine what may have set off the incidents and hoped to provide a fuller picture later Friday.
“There will be changes tonight with law enforcement,” a State Fair official told the Journal Sentinel.
Witnesses told WTMJ-AM (620) that dozens to hundreds of young black people were beating white people as they left the fair late Thursday night. Patrice Harris, a spokeswoman for the fair, said a police alert she was given indicated four people were hurt.
“It looked like they were just going after white guys, white people,” Norb Roffers of Wind Lake told WTMJ-AM. He said he left the State Fair entrance near the corner of S. 84th St. and W. Schlinger Ave. in West Allis.
One eyewitness, a concession worker who works near the midway area, told the Journal Sentinel that large groups of African-American youths ran through the midway area, knocking over young children and adults, disrupting midway rides and tearing signs up.
“I have never seen anything like it,” the worker said. “It was mob mentality.”
The concession worker said the incidents began at 7 p.m. “All of a sudden a wave of kids were running through the midway,” he said.
The worker said there was police, including officers on horseback, as well as other security, but it was not enough.
“All of a sudden we were hearing whistles,” the worker said.
A 34-year-old Muskego man said he was riding on the Ferris wheel in the midway with one of his children when he heard shouts of “fight.”
“The trouble really started somewhere between 7 and 8 p.m.,” said the man, who did not want to be identified because he was worried about the safety of his family. “We just heard this roar start. It was almost like you’re at a football game and a touchdown is scored and you just hear the crowd start roaring.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. There were hundreds – like 200 to 300 would be my guess. It wasn’t like 10 or 20. There was definitely a fight going on in the middle. There were so many people you couldn’t see who was fighting. There was just this big group that kept growing and chanting, ‘fight, fight, fight.’ ”
“That lasted for one to two minutes. Then when security showed up blowing some whistles, all of this mob started running. It was like a herd of cattle,” he said.
The man described the crowd gathered around the fight as African-American, predominantly male and mainly 15- to 20-year-olds.
Another eyewitness, a Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin worker who was with his wife, a daughter, a friend of his daughter’s, a brother and a sister-in-law, said they arrived at the midway at 9:15 p.m.
At about 9:40 p.m., he said he saw the first of two fights break out.
“I couldn’t see who was fighting but there was an incredible mob mentality,” he said. The eyewitness estimated the mob at between 30 to 50 black youths.
“We felt threatened. Without a doubt,” the eyewitness said.
He said a game-booth operator allowed his group to seek shelter in the booth while fights broke out.
“Fortunately, the police on horses arrived quite quickly,” the eyewitness said.
The eyewitness said he was the recipient of several racially charged comments from the black youths. At one point, he said, he approached a security guard and told him he had better get more security to the scene. He said he told the security officer that “trouble was brewing.”
“The scariest part is that we were trapped between the midway and the exits by the mob, we had no way out. It was very frightening,” the hospital worker said. “It was glaringly obvious something was going to happen long before it did,” the hospital worker said.
One woman, a Marquette University employee, had left the fair with a friend. She said they had just turned onto S. 84th St., across the street from the fair and were headed north toward I-94 when they saw young black youths running between cars on the street.
“Then groups of kids began surging, all running at cars,” she said. “Some kids ran up on the hood of the car in front of us, bounced on it and jumped off. That guy looked like he got out of the car. When he came back his face was bloody.”
She said she wasn’t sure if the man was able to get medical attention. “I saw somebody in the car with cellphones, probably calling police.”
“It was scary and it was confusing,” she added. “We didn’t know what was happening. We didn’t see any law enforcement officer.”
She said she and her friend were concerned that somebody would try to break into their car. “There were so many people coming at you. Yes, it was scary.”
Another woman said she and her boyfriend were leaving the fair on a motorcycle about 11:30 p.m. Thursday when she saw a “mob of black teens picking on a very tall white teen” around S. 84th St. and W. Greenfield Ave.
“I stated to my boyfriend that there is going to be problems over there and I hope the cops are watching this and within seconds I saw the white teen attempting to punch his way out of a circle of black teens,” the woman said in an e-mail to the newspaper. “My heart just fell for him. As we turned, I saw security at the entrance to the State Fair and I yelled get over there! They are beating up a kid! We turned, as we went toward the expressway we then had to witness the police involved in multiple stops and incidents down 84th.”
Harris said Friday that police officers were involved in breaking up numerous fights at the midway. She could not immediately provide a number, but said a number of arrests were made. Most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct.
“Throughout the night we had fights, but that’s not atypical,” Harris said.
Rick Pries of Milwaukee had spent the entire day at the fair with a friend and her two grandchildren.
“We were in the midway and it was very crowded. While the kids were waiting in line I noticed large groups of black males running through the very crowded midway, yelling there was a fight,” Pries said. “There were several of these large groups all converging to this location.”
Pries said he decided to take the two children he was watching out of a line they were waiting in and leave the fair.
“There was very little security,” he said. “And the few that were there would have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of troublemakers,” Pries said.
The concession worker said he was not personally hassled, but he was concerned the youths would attempt to take his cash register. He closed his concession stand early for safety reasons.
“I was planning to take my kids to the fair tonight,” he said Friday morning. “I definitely won’t now.”
The Wisconsin State Fair is located in different jurisdictions. The north side of the fairgrounds from the Hank Aaron Bike Trail north is in the city of Milwaukee. The rest of the fair is in West Allis. Adding to the confusion is that the Wisconsin State Fair Park police has jurisdiction only on the fair grounds, not outside of it.
The fair incidents are similar to mob-like disturbances that occurred over the Fourth of July weekend in Milwaukee.
About 60 young people beat and robbed a smaller group that had been watching fireworks from Kilbourn Reservoir Park. The injured people were white; the attackers were African-American, witnesses said.
Another group looted a convenience store at a gas station at the corner E. North Ave. and N. Humboldt Blvd.
The incidents Thursday night come as the State Fair board over the last decade has worked to increase diversity at the annual fair, expanding its entertainment lineup and marketing to appeal to a younger, more multicultural audience. Diversity was a priority for State Fair Park Chairman Martin Greenberg, who spoke often of making it “truly the people’s park” – a “place of inclusion, not exclusion”
Thursday night’s Main Stage performer was rapper MC Hammer, but a number of people who attended the concert said the show wasn’t to blame at all for the disturbances at the fair. One woman said the crowd watching Hammer was mostly white and adult and any children there seemed to be with parents.
Another woman said the concert was “very laid back and had no craziness that we witnessed at all.” “The craziness was in the Midway,” she said.
Journal Sentinel staff writer Annysa Johnson contributed to this report.
By: Byron York | Chief Political Correspondent Follow Him @ByronYork | 06/30/11 8:05 PM
AP Photo/Green Bay Press-Gazette, Corey Wilson
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs his first budget in front of supporters gathered at Fox Valley Metal Tech in Ashwaubenon, Wis., on Sunday, June 26, 2011. The budget helped save the struggling Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin.
“This is a disaster,” said Mark Miller, the Wisconsin Senate Democratic leader, in February after Republican Gov. Scott Walker proposed a budget bill that would curtail the collective bargaining powers of some public employees. Miller predicted catastrophe if the bill were to become law — a charge repeated thousands of times by his fellow Democrats, union officials, and protesters in the streets.
Now the bill is law, and we have some very early evidence of how it is working. And for one beleaguered Wisconsin school district, it’s a godsend, not a disaster.
The Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it’s all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.
In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now, they’ll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and also contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board President Todd Arnoldussen.
Of course, Wisconsin unions had offered to make benefit concessions during the budget fight. Wouldn’t Kaukauna’s money problems have been solved if Walker had just accepted those concessions and not demanded cutbacks in collective bargaining powers?
“The monetary part of it is not the entire issue,” says Arnoldussen, a political independent who won a spot on the board in a nonpartisan election. Indeed, some of the most important improvements in Kaukauna’s outlook are because of the new limits on collective bargaining.
In the past, Kaukauna’s agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust — a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. “It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them,” says Arnoldussen. “Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor.” This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.
Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. “With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, ‘We can match the lowest bid,’” says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust, but saving substantial amounts of money.
Then there are work rules. “In the collective bargaining agreement, high school teachers only had to teach five periods a day, out of seven,” says Arnoldussen. “Now, they’re going to teach six.” In addition, the collective bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37 1/2 hours a week. Now, it will be 40 hours.
The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes — from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.
Teachers’ salaries will stay “relatively the same,” Arnoldussen says, except for higher pension and health care payments. (The top salary is around $80,000 per year, with about $35,000 in additional benefits, for 184 days of work per year — summers off.) Finally, the money saved will be used to hire a few more teachers and institute merit pay.
It is impossible to overstate how bitter and ugly the Wisconsin fight has been, and that bitterness and ugliness continues to this day with efforts to recall senators and an unseemly battle inside the state Supreme Court. But the new law is now a reality, and Gov. Walker recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the measure will gain acceptance “with every day, week and month that goes by that the world doesn’t fall apart.”
In the Kaukauna schools, the world is not only not falling apart — it’s getting better.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/06/union-curbs-rescue-wisconsin-school-district#ixzz1QtN4AS8j
Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed his first budget Sunday, a two-year $66 billion deal that will balance the state’s $3 billion shortfall without raising taxes. Balancing the budget without raising taxes fulfills a campaign pledge, and Gov. Walker was able to accomplish this prior to the new fiscal year starting July 1. The budget passed without the support of a single Democrat in the Legislature.
“He released just 50 vetoes early Sunday morning, signaling the Republican-controlled Legislature had given him almost everything he wanted when lawmakers revised the document. Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle issued 81 vetoes with the 2009-11 budget, his last before leaving office.
‘As a state, we can choose to take the easy road and push off the tough decisions and pass the buck to future generations, or we can step up to the plate and make the tough decisions today,’ Walker said in prepared remarks. ‘Our budget chooses to fix our problems now, so that our children and our grandchildren don’t face the same challenges we face today.’”
To find the state out of the fiscal quagmire which he inherited, Gov. Walker had to make major cuts including shaving $1.85 billion from education and $500 million in unspecified Medicaid programs. The budget expands Milwaukee’s school voucher program to suburban schools in Milwaukee County and the city of Racine.
Gov. Walker signed the budget before a crowd of about 100 people in Green Bay, with a few hundred protesters gathered outside chanting “Shame!“ and ”Recall Walker!” reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Democrats have criticized the budget as an attack on middle class values since it cuts funding for public schools and tax credits for poor people.
Wisconsin is scheduled to have recall elections in August that could result in Democrats gaining a majority in the Senate and with it power to block Walker and the GOP’s agenda in the future.
Townhall By Kyle Olson March 26, 20110
Apparently Gov. Scott Walker knew exactly what he was doing.
Before he signed the bill limiting collective bargaining privileges, teachers unions throughout the state were slow to respond to calls for salary and benefit concessions.
They believed their members should be held harmless during a period of necessary cost-cutting. They didn’t seem to care that Wisconsin schools were operating with multi-million dollar deficits that were forcing the layoffs of younger teachers and the cancellation of student programs.
Their only answer was to raise taxes at a time when few people could afford it. They didn’t want to sacrifice anything, despite the fact that schools spend about 80 percent of their budgets on labor costs.
But now, with Walker’s legislation set to become law once it clears legal hurdles, the unions are suddenly coming to their senses. They are jumping at the chance to extend their collective bargaining agreements, in exchange for meaningful concessions that will help schools survive the financial crisis.
In Madison, the teachers union has suddenly agreed to a wage freeze and increases in health insurance and pension contributions. The concessions will save the district an estimated $15 million next year, which would almost make up for the expected cuts in state aid.
In Oshkosh, the union has agreed to a wage freeze, increased contributions toward benefits and a change in the employee insurance carrier, which will save the district more than $5 million per year.
In the Slinger district, the union has agreed to commit 5.8 percent of teacher pay to pension costs and increase contributions toward health care costs. The concessions will save the district about $1.3 million per year. What are the unions gaining by accepting concessions at the last possible minute? Plenty.
They are salvaging things like automatic annual salary increases for teachers, a generous number of paid sick and personal days off, reimbursement for unused sick days, salary and benefits for union officials who do not teach, retirement bonuses, overage pay for teachers with a few extra students, and many other items.
Those contractual perks would have gone by the wayside if local collective bargaining agreements had been allowed to expire. Under the new law, the unions will not have the power to negotiate for many of the items listed in current contracts.
So the unions will save some time-honored perks and schools will save a lot of money. This type of compromise would not have occurred without pressure from Gov. Walker and his supporters in the legislature.
Perhaps the governor knew exactly what he was doing by creating a crisis and forcing the unions to face financial reality. Nothing else seemed to be working and schools were drowning in deficits.
Ironically, the loss of collective bargaining privileges would not have been necessary if the unions would have come to their senses months ago and started offering meaningful concessions. They lost most of their privileges by remaining stubborn for too long.