State Politicial Government News: Outgoing Madison chancellor blames the bargaining law for derailing her plans to separate the campus from the restWisconsin News
-- The outgoing chancellor of UW-Madison now says the political turmoil over the public union bargaining law might have derailed her effort to separate her campus from the state’s 25 others.
MADISON - The outgoing chancellor of UW-Madison now says the political turmoil over the public union bargaining law might have derailed her effort to separate her campus from the state’s 25 others.
Biddy Martin said her proposal would have gotten the public’s full attention, had it not been for the massive opposition to the new state law that limits bargaining for most public unions. And Martin said her idea would have been debated on its merits instead of being a quote, “political standoff.” But Governor Scott Walker and at least one Republican lawmaker disagree. Walker said Republicans who had problems with the Madison split would have felt the same way even if nothing else was being debated at the time. He said the union issue had no impact whatsoever. Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend said the other UW campuses would have fought the Madison split anyway – and those other schools would have carried more weight with him regardless. Martin spent a year working on her proposal – which would have created a separate board to run the Madison campus with the ability to set its own tuition and policies. Walker put it in his proposed state budget, but GOP lawmakers took it out. Martin recently said the dispute helped cause her resignation. She becomes the new president of Amherst College in Massachusetts next month.
The state Democratic Party says three of its state senators who face recall elections each have at least $140,000 on hand. Incumbent Bob Wirch of Kenosha has raised $184,000, with $142,000– while Republican challenger Jonathan Steitz has taken in $33,000, and fellow Republican Fred Ekornaas raised around five-thousand. The Democrats say Senator Jim Holperin of Conover has raised $338,000 for his recall campaign, with 148-thousand on hand. One of his two GOP opponents, Kim Simac, has $53,000 on hand. Her primary challenger Robert Lussow had not filed a campaign report at last word. Meanwhile, Green Bay Senate Democrat Dave Hansen has $243,000 dollars on hand, and has raised about 318-thousand for his race against Republican David VanderLeest, who has not reported yet. Those reports are expected today. Hansen and VanderLeest will square off next Tuesday. Senators Wirch and Holperin both have their general elections on August 16th, following GOP primaries next Tuesday in both their districts. Today, primaries are being held to determine the finalists against six Republican senators. Those general contests are set for August ninth.
The head of the state's Democratic Party is upset that at least some Republicans are trying to get their fake Democrats to win today’s state Senate recall primaries. The GOP has said all along that it only put up the fake Democrats to keep the real Democrats busy with primaries – so the six Republican Senate incumbents who would have been up today will get an extra month to campaign. But state Democratic chairman Mike Tate says he’s heard of last-minute calls in three Senate districts urging people to vote against the real Democrats today. He called it a “sneaky, dirty trick” and quote, “It shows how low the Republicans will stoop to keep their control on power.” Tate also called it an “absolute abuse” of the voters’ trust. The Democratic leader was confident that all six of his party’s candidates would win today – and Republicans are wasting their time trying to disrupt the Democratic primaries. On Sunday, Saint Croix County Republican Chairman Jesse Garza urged people to vote for fake Democrat Isaac Weix of Elmwood. Garza said it would be an opportunity to eliminate Ellsworth teacher Shelly Moore – who’s running as a Democrat against GOP Senate Incumbent Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls. Weix has run twice as a Republican Assembly candidate. If he wins today, Weix says he won’t campaign against Harsdorf – but he wouldn’t turn down her Senate seat if voters choose to recall her next month.
We’ll start finding out today how much Wisconsinites care about the unprecedented effort to recall up to nine state senators. The first primary elections are being held in six Senate districts. They’ll determine who the Democratic challengers will be, when the targeted Republicans stand for election on August ninth. The state Government Accountability Board would not venture a guess as to how many voters might turn out. Spokesman Reid Magney said there’s no way to look at previous trends, since the elections are the first-of-their-kind. UW-Milwaukee political scientist Mordecai Lee, a former Democratic legislator, says it’s possible that not even 10-percent of voters will show up in their districts. He says it might help the conservatives, but that’s anybody’s guess. Governor Scott Walker says the recall elections are a “distraction” from the state’s effort to create jobs – and he does not believe everyday Wisconsinites care about them. But Walker has to pay attention, because he’d lose his Republican majority in the Senate if the Democrats gain three seats in the next month. For that reason, the recalls are a huge deal to the party activists and operatives. Republicans are running as “fake Democrats” in all six districts, and the state GOP says it’s only to give the real Republicans an extra month to campaign. Otherwise, they’d be up today. But recently, some Republicans have been pushing for the fake Democrats to win, to try-and-get the real Democrats out of the picture. State Democrats don’t think that will happen.
Public employees throughout Wisconsin will pay more for their health care than just higher premiums – and a major union leader is not happy about it. The new budget includes higher co-pays for state-and-local employees in the state’s group health plans. The state’s Group Insurance Board approved the increases. They call for 10-percent co-pays for non-preventive care up to $500 a year for a single worker, and a-thousand-dollars for those in family plans. State Employees’ Union chief Marty Beil recently told Wisconsin Public Television it’s a sign of things to come, now that public unions have lost most of their collective bargaining privileges. Beil says the higher co-pays are quote, “an insidious way of chipping away at benefits.” The state says it will help reduce the cost of its group plans by at least five-percent next year. The changes affect over 260,000 state-and-local public employees.