Afternoon Statet News Briefs: WTA reports 49 school districts operating with lower revenues than a decade agoWisconsin News
-- The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance is reporting 49 of the state’s 424 school districts are operating on lower revenues this year than they did a decade ago.
The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance is reporting 49 of the state’s 424 school districts are operating on lower revenues this year than they did a decade ago.
About two-thirds of those school systems are in Republican Senate districts. That could explain why 18 Republican state senators have stepped up to say they would oppose Governor Walker’s plan to freeze school aid in his next budget. Walker’s spending plan would give property taxpayers an amount equaling one percent of school aid, then let the taxpayers decide through referendums where their local district should get the money.
Traffic traveling northbound on Interstate 94 this morning near Racine County Highway C was stopped for about 40 minutes while deputies investigated an accident. A woman had called the Racine County Sheriff’s Office at about 6:20 a.m. to report something had hit her vehicle and broken the windshield. Investigators found a box van had lost a set of tandem wheels from the rear axle of the truck. Another driver on I-94 was able to pull over safely. Eight wheel studs which held the van’s wheels on securely had sheared off for an unknown reason. The woman suffered minor cuts from the glass which was broken out of her windshield.
If you want to buy or sell something on Craigslist, how about coming in to the Milton police station? Milton police say you can use the lobby. The offer comes just after reports of an armed robbery in nearby Janesville connected to a Craigslist transaction. Two Illinois men have been arrested. Online selling sites often involve cash transactions which can be unpredictable when they are conducted in an unsecured location. Milton police say other departments have been doing something like this and the offer is effective immediately. The lobby space is equipped with surveillance cameras and will only be available during business hours. The department won’t be involved, but a police spokesman says the location should make criminals think twice before planning a rip-off there.
Just in case Congress doesn’t do it, three state legislative Democrats proposed a bill today to require background checks for all gun buyers – even person-to-person transactions and those at gun shows. A measure pending by majority Democrats in the U.S. Senate would require universal background checks nationally. But passage is doubtful in the GOP controlled House. In Wisconsin, Democrats also face an uphill battle in passing gun measures with the GOP in charge of both houses and the governor’s office. But Assembly Democrat Jon Richards of Milwaukee said a large percentage of gun buyers escape background checks by going through unlicensed dealers. He said most people agree the laws should apply to everyone. Madison Assembly Democrat Terese Berceau is also sponsoring the measure, along with Milwaukee freshman Senator Nikiya Harris. Also attending today’s news conference was Elvin Daniel, whose sister was killed last October in a domestic-related shooting spree at a Brookfield spa.
Over 100 members of Congress asked the FBI today to keep track of hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arab-Americans. The Justice Department made the same request to the FBI last December, in response to the mass shootings at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek last August. Six worshippers were killed before the gunman, Wade Michael Page, killed himself. Milwaukee House Democrat Gwen Moore was among those signing the congressional letter to the FBI. The letter said that too many crimes have been committed against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arab-Americans because of their religions – and not because they were confused with Muslims.
State School Superintendent Tony Evers told lawmakers today to scrap Governor Scott Walker’s proposed income tax cut, highway spending, and private school vouchers – and give all that money to public schools instead. Evers appeared before the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, which is reviewing the proposed two-year state budget submitted by the Republican Walker. Evers slammed the governor’s plan to give tax-funded vouchers to parents in up to nine additional school districts – so their kids can go to private schools if they don’t feel their public schools are up-to-snuff. Evers also criticized Walker’s plan to freeze state-mandated revenue limits so schools don’t get any extra state aid. GOP finance co-chair John Nygren of Marinette asked how more money would help improve graduation rates in struggling schools. The superintendent, who’s running for re-election in April against state Assembly Republican Don Pridemore of Hartford, says the Walker budget creates quote, “too many winners and losers,” and “it pits public school kids against voucher and independent charter school kids – and even public school against public school.” Evers was referring to Walker’s plan to create a separate pot of bonus state aid for top-performing schools. Evers called the bonuses fleeting, and said the money should be used on all schools. The superintendent was also critical of letting special needs youngsters attend private voucher schools. Evers called that quote, “a dangerous experiment with our most vulnerable students.”
A judge in Milwaukee said today he would not move possible trials for four city police officers accused of illegally strip-searching criminal suspects. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner said he did not buy defense arguments that the heavy publicity in the case would prevent the defendants from getting fair trials. Lawyer Michael Fitzgerald argued that the four defendants were quote, “held responsible for tarnishing the reputation of the entire police department, and they’ve been condemned by their own chief.” Wagner said he would question jurors thoroughly to make sure they’re not biased. Michael Vagnini, Jacob Knight, Brian Kolozek, and Jeffrey Dollhopf are charged with a total of 33 counts of illegal strip searches and misconduct. Vagnini is charged with 25 of those counts, and he would be tried to separately from the others. Prosecutors said the other three were merely present in most of the instances in which Vagnini checked suspects’ cavities for illegal drugs. Vagnini is scheduled to go on trial April 29th. The other three have possible trials in early June.
Wisconsin is getting a record $16-million from the federal government for wildlife projects in the current fiscal year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said today it was allocating an all-time high of $882-million dollars for fish, wildlife, and recreation projects. And it would be $44-million more if it wasn’t for the federal sequestration cuts ordered on March first. When the sequester is over, that $44-million would go to the states. The $16-million in wildlife projects for the Badger State is five-million more than the year before. Also, the state is getting $12-million from the federal sport-fish fund. That’s a half-million more than in fiscal 2012. The wildlife funding comes from excise taxes on guns, ammunition, and archery equipment – and those items are having record sales. The fish fund is financed by an excise tax on rods, reels, lures, and motorboat fuel.