Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Wisconsin in focus: Schools rush to raise taxes for energy projects

By Watchdog News - August 08, 2017 at 07:25AM

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin schools raised $217M above tax caps for green projects

Under a law that Republicans might eliminate in the next budget, Wisconsin school districts raised more than $217 million in new taxes for energy-related projects since 2009 — all of it outside revenue caps and without going to referendum.

The new taxes require just a school board majority vote, and they’ve been a lifeline for districts laboring under tight spending limits and decreased revenue. Many have long put off new lights and HVAC systems in favor of salaries and curriculum.

“We didn’t have the savings to borrow for what these projects would have cost,” said Sue Sorenson, board president of the Green Lake School District. The district has exceeded its revenue limit by more than $5 million for projects such as a new boiler, chiller, lighting and roof repairs — but also on a kitchen remodel and new computers, according to board documents.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP senators have proposed eliminating the law in the next budget. Critics say it violates the spirit of fiscal restraint and accountability and that districts shouldn’t be able to raise so much money without a referendum.

Wisconsin State Journal: Senator: UW should cut programs with ‘little demand’ to produce more engineers for Foxconn

University of Wisconsin System campuses should beef up their engineering programs to train workers at a planned Foxconn facility in southeastern Wisconsin by cutting funding for less popular programs — not by asking the state for more money — a Republican senator said Monday.

Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, criticized UW System President Ray Cross’ request at a hearing last week for lawmakers to provide additional higher education funding so campuses can hire new faculty members and produce more engineers for Foxconn.

Stroebel said UW should use the state funding it already has to expand engineering programs.

“The University of Wisconsin System needs to prioritize ‘needs and wants,’ ” Stroebel said. “UW needs to start investing current resources into increasing faculty and staff for engineering, supply chain and computer science degrees.

WKOW 27: PDQ laying off 300-plus workers throughout Wisconsin

PDQ Food Stores Incorporated plans to lay off 313 employees come October 9th of this year after the Middleton based company announced it would be selling the company to La Crosse based Kwik Trip Inc. last month.

The notice does state Kwik Trip may hire some of the affected employees, and PDQ employees can reapply for a position with Kwik Trip after the sale is complete, however nothing has been guaranteed.

In a press release the Department of Workforce Development it says they will be working with those affected using their Dislocated Worker Program to provide transition assistance to workers, and other companies, such as suppliers and distributors.



from Watchdog.org