Looking Back, Looking Forward
As we say good-bye to 2012, it’s good to reflect on the old year and the opportunities and challenges in the New Year.
Holidays Don’t Slow State’s Chief Watchdogs
Most of us spend the weeks before Christmas putting the finishing touches on our holiday celebrations. But, just like Santa’s elves, staff at the Legislative Audit Bureau was busily working to put the finishing preparations on new audit reports.
Let’s be Tough on Criminals and Smart on Crime
“I’m an alcoholic,” the man told a large audience in Eau Claire. “I was sentenced to 6 years in prison for my fifth drunk driving offense.” He served his time but relapsed after prison.
State Exchange Best Option for Lowering Health Costs
“... I have seen the devastation of company denials on families [and] witnessed the financial devastation on families that cannot get health insurance,” wrote a local insurance broker.
Count Your Blessings instead of Sheep
“Count your blessings instead of sheep, I tell my clients,” my sister, the psychologist, told me. “New research shows we can actually reprogram the brain by focusing on the positive.”
What to Look for in an Affordable Health Insurance Exchange
“Don’t worry about the deadline,” a Legislative colleague recently told a group in Menomonie. “Preparations are being made to make sure Wisconsin creates an exchange.”
New Report Cards Grade Local Schools
The Department of Public Instruction recently released report cards on almost all of Wisconsin’s over 2,000 schools. High schools, middle schools, elementary schools and charter schools are all rated.
Report from a Public Hearing on Elections: Put Voters First
“I’m not going to touch that machine,” the aging farmer told the poll worker. “I want to make sure my vote is properly counted.”
WEDC Hid Lost Loans from Audit Committee
Paul Jadin, the head of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), was surprisingly agreeable when he appeared before my colleagues and me at the recent hearing of the Joint Committee on Audit.
Creating a Culture of Civility
“Sure the economy is a concern,” said the woman at the door. “But what I want is for all of you to get along. Can’t you learn how to compromise?”
Hold WEDC Leadership Accountable
Recent actions suggest trouble at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). WEDC was created as a ‘nimble corporation’ that would streamline the process of investing public money in businesses for job creation.
“How do I attract and keep the best teachers?” the school administrator asked me. “I’m losing my best teachers,” another said.
What is a "Fair Tax"?
The “Fair Tax” is a proposal to replace the current income, capital gains and payroll taxes with a 23% consumption tax on new goods and services: no exceptions.
Senator Vinehout: Sen.Wanggaard respect the will of 21st Senate District Voters
“The people of the 21st Senate District have spoken and we all must respect their decision," State Senator Kathleen Vinehout said. “With the recount finished, I call on Senator Wanggaard to concede the election and not pursue a lawsuit.”
Fix Health Care, Grow Jobs
Again and again I hear: one thing Wisconsin could do to help small business is lower health insurance costs.
Audit: Evidence Lacking on Job Creation Programs
People want jobs. Lawmakers respond with state programs to assist businesses in creating jobs. But do businesses that receive state money actually create the jobs?
Kicking the Can down the Road
Details are emerging of financial transactions the Walker administration made last year to balance the budget by not paying debt bills coming due.
Senator Vinehout to JFC Co-Chairs: Wisconsin must Deal with Increasing Debt
Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) called on the Finance Committee Co-Chairs to address recent state actions made to avoid paying debt payments coming due.
Job Numbers: What’s Real?
“I just don’t understand these job numbers” the woman told me. “Are we losing jobs or are we getting more?”
State Budget Fix: Moving Debt into the Future
“Please tell me what’s really happening with the state budget,” the man asked me. “It’s so hard to know what’s going on.”
Wisconsin’s Finances: the Rest of the Story
To understand the numbers, I recently spent time with the Legislature’s financial and auditing experts. I asked them to help explain the financial state of the state.
Citizens Need to Know About Proposed Sand Mines
Citizens across western Wisconsin contact me concerned about the siting of sand mines in their neighborhoods. Frac sand mining has become Wisconsin’s “gold rush.”
Wisconsin’s Recall Law: To assure the consent of the governed
“Why do we have a recall law?” the man asked me. Many citizens have asked about the history of Wisconsin’s recall laws and the process of a recall.
Ethical questions raised about SWIB nominee
Past wheeling and dealing using state pension fund money came to light recently in a Senate Financial Institutions and Rural Affairs committee hearing.