Government and Political Roundup: Lawmakers proposing school districts no longer needing approval to raise taxes for security equipment
Two central Wisconsin lawmakers are proposing a bill in which school districts would no longer need voter approval to raise taxes for security equipment. Assembly Democrat Amy Sue Vruwink of Milladore and Senate Democrat Julie Lassa of Stevens Point are proposing that schools be allowed to raise their state-mandated revenue limits for security equipment. The increase would be 100-dollars a student or 40-thousand-dollars - whichever is the most. Vruwink says no one wants to see a repeat of the Connecticut school tragedy from last December. She says Wisconsin schools would not be forced to add safety equipment - but with tight budgets, the taxing authority would make it easier for them to do so. A number of school referendums throughout Wisconsin this month included borrowing for security equipment. Some measures passed, and some failed. Gannett's Central Wisconsin Sunday newspaper said the measure had 28 Democratic co-sponsors in both houses, and only one Republican - Senator Dale Schultz of Richland Center.
A new state contract to give Wisconsin Medicaid recipients rides to their appointments will cost taxpayers an extra six-point-three million dollars. That's what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says about a new three-year deal for M-T-M Incorporated of Missouri. State officials said last week they would pursue a contract with the firm. It would replace Logisti-Care, which walked out of its deal after just two-and-a-half months. The Journal Sentinel said the firm was losing money because the state under-estimated the numbers of rides for Milwaukee area Medicaid recipients. The original Logisti-Care contract was for 38-million dollars. The new deal is almost 16-million more - and of that, the federal government would pick up about 10-million dollars of the increase. County governments used to provide medical transportation for Medicaid recipients. But the state went to a private firm in mid-2011, after health officials said it would save four-million-dollars a year. Assembly Democrat Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton led a group of lawmakers that have twice sought audits of the Logisti-Care contract. Schaber's office said an audit is needed to avoid financial mistakes in the future.
Some of the federal government's automatic spending cuts are creating more paperwork - in the form of congressional bills to restore that money. La Crosse House Democrat Ron Kind is co-sponsoring a measure to maintain air traffic controllers at his hometown airport and 148 others around the country. Eight towers in Wisconsin were among those that were supposed to be closed on April seventh - until the F-A-A announced a reprieve until at least June 15th. Pilots said they could still communicate with each other to keep their planes going without colliding - but Kind says it's slowing down regional commerce. He said the across-the-board sequestration process is the wrong way to cut spending. Kind is also critical of funding cuts for children's Head Start programs. As Kind put it, "These kids are 3-and-4-years-old only once in their life - and it we miss this opportunity now to invest in their future, they're going to be behind the ball."
Republican mega-donor Bob Perry has died. The Houston real estate tycoon gave millions to conservative candidates and causes - including at least a quarter-million dollars to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to help him survive his recall effort last year. A close family friend said the 80-year-old Perry died in his sleep on Saturday night. He was a fixture in G-O-P fundraising since the mid-1990's, both in Texas and throughout the country. One of his most notorious contributions was almost four-and-a-half million dollars to the Swift Boat Veterans' ad campaign that challenged Democrat John Kerry's service record in Vietnam when he ran for president in 2004. Perry's donation to Walker was among the largest in a recall race that attracted a record 81-million dollars in total spending.