State News Roundup: School employees had to pay more for their health insurance and pensionsWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin school boards made up for about two-thirds of their lost state aid by making employees pay more for their health insurance and pensions last year.
Wisconsin school boards made up for about two-thirds of their lost state aid by making employees pay more for their health insurance and pensions last year. That’s according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance in a new report to be released today. It said that school districts cut their spending on health and pensions by 287-million dollars in the last school year. And that made up for 64-percent of the 451-million-dollar reduction in total state aid to Wisconsin’s public schools last year. The Tax Alliance said the savings could have been greater. But a number of school districts – including Milwaukee – extended their previous teacher contracts to delay the terms of the collective bargaining limits adopted by state Republicans over a year-and-a-half ago. In September, a Dane County judge threw out the bargaining limits for public schools and local governments – but the higher health insurance and pension payments remain in effect. The state’s trying to overturn the judge’s ruling – and the issue is still pending in an appellate court.
A new U-W Madison study shows that young girls exposed to high stress levels have a better chance of suffering anxiety or depression as teenagers. Previous studies showed a similar link – but the Madison study is the first to document actual changes in girls’ brains. The U-W recruited 57 young adults to take part in the study before they gave birth. That was back in 1990. The original goal was to see how working women cope with the challenges of being mothers. The researchers looked at things like emotional and economic pressures facing those young mothers. But as time went on, researcher Cory Burghy said his colleagues took a closer look at the kids, and how they handled the stresses of home life. The mothers had stress exams, while the kids had their cortisol levels tested. The brains of those with high cortisol levels at age four-and-a-half took M-R-I exams when they were at 18 – and those results, plus interviews, turned up higher-than-normal levels of depression and anxiety in the girls. But boys who grew up in similar households did not suffer the same conditions. Next, U-W scientists want to see if childhood stress really causes young brains to be rewired – and what can be done to fix that.
Around 100 Wisconsin Air National Guard troops were deployed to Southwest Asia on Veterans’ Day. They belong to the 128th Air Control Squadron based at Volk Field in Juneau County – and they’ll spend six months supporting air defense efforts in the Persian Gulf. Some members left early, but most were given a send-off yesterday at their base. Meanwhile, ceremonies were held throughout Wisconsin yesterday to honor those who served. State officials held three ceremonies at the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery near Spooner, and at state Veterans’ Homes at Union Grove and King in Waupaca County.
Wisconsin’s largest single-family house goes up for auction on Wednesday in Door County. It’s a 35-thousand square foot mansion with 43 rooms – and it’s located at Ellison Bay in the northern Door Peninsula. The property also has a three-bedroom guest house, a two-bedroom studio house, and a beach house with 700-square feet. The master suite has seven rooms – and the house has its own movie theater, plus an indoor swimming pool with its own kitchen. Judith Blazer had the estate built in the 1990’s. She was an heir to the Miller Group of Appleton, which made arc welding equipment. Blazer sold the property to a California couple for 18-million dollars in 2005. But the new owners never lived there, because the wife had died. The land has been divided into four parcels – and at Wednesday’s auction, people can bid on any or all of the individual parcels.