Surplus, Education & More...
School Choice Week
National School Choice Week has just ended and as a Choice proponent, I continually look for ways to support parent choices in educating their child or children. The culmination of School Choice week was a gathering in Green Bay where former Governor Tommy Thompson gave the keynote. Governor Thompson could be called the “father of Wisconsin Choice”, and he certainly delivered a strong message of support for parental choice and rights.
This week I joined Sens. Darling, Roth and others in releasing a package of K-12 education bills promoting school effectiveness, transparency, accountability, and re-asserting parental choice and rights. As a result of the COVID-19 health emergency, failing school leadership and the elimination of educational opportunities, our children are suffering consequences.
Some 600,000 identified students can’t read at grade level! We need to be bold as we work to improve Wisconsin’s K-12 performance. Kids need to know how to read; our schools should be effective in their teaching, and accountable to the parents. We need bold action for our students.
This is why I am leading on these bills in the State Assembly:
Milwaukee Public School Accountability: Re-organizing the Milwaukee Public Schools (MOS) and creating in its place four to eight public school districts within the city.
School and School District Report Cards: Re-establishes some of the changes DPI made prior to 2020-21 report cards, and requires DPI to submit to the Administrative Rules committee their methodology of calculating the Overall Score for the report card.
School Choice Expansion: This bill will open school choice to all Wisconsin families by removing state enrollment caps, and family income limits – marking the beginning of true school choice for all our students.
High Performing Charter Schools: Provides that a contract to operate a charter school must allow the governing board to open additional charter schools.
Charter School Authorizing Board: Creates a charter school authorizing board to approve new independent charter schools statewide.
Committee Action on Wittke Bills
This week I testified on several bills I’ve authored, including: Assembly Joint Resolution 112 (AJR112). This Assembly Joint Resolution would modify the State Constitution to return to the Legislature the responsibility of designating federal funds received by the state. To modify the Constitution, a Joint Resolution, like AJR 112, must pass the legislature in identical form in two consecutive legislative sessions before being submitted to the voters for approval by referenda.
On Wednesday, I testified before the Assembly Committee on Local Government on Assembly Bill 894 (AB 894). This is a bill that was brought to me by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Wisconsin Towns Association to address each organizations' boundary concerns. The provisions of this bill are designed to benefit the residents subject to boundary changes.
I also supported Assembly Bill 887 (AB 887) which will authorize the construction of additional columbarium units at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery (SWVMC) in Union Grove. As a member of the State Building Commission we authorized a major project for the SWVMC, and AB 887 will give the Department of Veteran Affairs authority to ask for additional moneys to complete the columbarium units as approved by the State Building Commission.
Law Enforcement Package
Many cities are starving police and sheriff department budgets from the inside, even with rising crime rates. In 2020 I received feedback from Sheriff Christopher Schmaling that a ride along is the best way to understand the challenges that officers and deputies face on a daily basis. Since then, I have ridden along with the Racine County Sheriffs’ Office, Racine Police Department, Village of Caledonia Police Department, and Milwaukee Police Department, District Five.
Last month the Assembly released a package of legislation I support aimed at helping to recruit, retain and reward our hardworking law enforcement officers. Assembly Bills 830, 831, 832, 833, 834, 835, 836, and 837 passed during the January 25th floor session. I cannot underscore enough the need for these bills, and express my gratitude to our officers for their service to our communities. Thank you!
Constituents at the Capitol
Many organizations and interest groups host annual "Legislative Days" at the State Capitol. Generally accompanied by briefings and learning opportunities, "Legislative Days" offer a great chance for constituents and other advocates to meet with their Representatives and Senators and connect on meaningful issues and legislation. Pictured below are two meetings I attended last week.
Meeting with constituents from Educators Credit Union for the Wisconsin Credit Union League Legislative Day.
Racine County Legislators discussing the needs of Wisconsin farmers during Ag Day at the Capitol!
Things to Do
Saturday, February 12 - Be Mine 5K
Saturday, February 12 - Norwegian Lutefisk and Meatball Dinner
Saturday, February 12 - Tichigan Sno N Go Ice Fishing Jamboree
Saturday, February 19 - Town of Norway Winterfest
Racine County Eye