June 30, 2017

Volume 3 Issue 15

State Representative Janel Brandtjen

    Great Unemployment Numbers

Wisconsin's unemployment numbers continue to improve. Not only did Wisconsin's numbers fall to an impressive 3.1% but the Milwaukee Business journal is reporting that Milwaukee has the 6th lowest  unemployment rate among  major US metropolitan areas. There is no question that these jobs numbers are a direct result of conservative reforms.  

Referendum Reform Package

Last Thursday the Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Education held a hearing on three bills that would change how Wisconsin’s school districts would deal with referendums. AB 282 would require school districts to consider referendum resolutions only at annual meetings, AB 268, my bill, would limit reoccurring referendums to five years, and AB 269 would require school districts to schedule referendums either during the April or November general elections.  None of these bills limit the amount or the number of referendums.  In my opinion, they only make a modest change in the existing referendum laws.                         

AB 268 is Local Control

Last week I issued a press release entitled “Forever is Long, Long time”.  AB 268, as noted above, would require that school districts renew operating referendums every five years. The main objection that was voiced by the “educational establishment” is that the state is somehow usurping local control. I am in complete disagreement with that synopsis of the bill. I believe the bill increases local control by giving the local voters a continual voice in how their hard earned tax dollars are spent. Every five years the voters have the opportunity to say yay or nay to the additional spending. Furthermore, the districts would have the incentive to make sure that the extra money was being spend productively.  Win – Win is the way I see it.

                            Ensuring YOUR voice for a $178.5 million dollar tax

Across the state, since 1996, school boards have been instituting forever referendums that total $178.5 million. This is a tax that most voters don’t realize is being forced on them. For instance, the Hamilton school district in 1998 passed a referendum that costs over a half a million dollars. I don’t take any issue with passing referendums, but I have a feeling that most people who have moved to Lisbon, Lannon, Menomonee Falls, or Butler since 1998 aren’t aware our taxes are half a million dollars higher than they have to be. Outside the 22nd Assembly District, our neighbors in West Bend passed a referendum in 2001 that is still costing taxpayers nearly one million dollars. Is it right to subject people who moved to West Bend 10 years ago to a tax they’ve never had an opportunity to vote for? Way back in 2005 Dodgeville residents voted for a forever tax totaling $1.3 million. The referendum passed by 86 votes. I have a feeling that in the last 12 years, some voters may have changed their minds. My bill simply gives these voters the opportunity to let their voice be heard. Attached is a list of school districts all over the state that are taxing their residents extra due to a vote taken up to 21 years ago.


God Bless Wisconsin!




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Rep.Brandtjen@legis.wisconsin.gov State Capitol Room 221 North- PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 Toll Free: (888) 534-0022 or (608) 267-2367