The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is offering its opinion on key issues in the gubernatorial race, and K-12 and higher education is the focus of today’s editorial.
The editorial board writes that a tuition freeze is politically popular, but ultimately can harm the university:
. . . the fact is that such a continued freeze could hurt the system’s ability to attract and retain faculty. UW schools are a bargain, with average costs, and quality doesn’t come cheap.
The Journal Sentinel maintains the state should eliminate the tuition freeze while improving funding for UW System.
Voters in Wisconsin may begin in-person absentee voting today, Monday, October 20. Polls in Madison will be open from 8 am until 7 pm Monday through Friday, October 20 through 24 and October 27 through 31. All balloting must be completed in the municipal clerk’s office. More information on early voting is here.
The University of Wisconsin Department of Political Science is sponsoring a panel discussion on polling in the hotly-contested Wisconsin gubernatorial race at 3 pm, Monday, October 20 in the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street. The panel will discuss the accuracy of polls and what we can learn from them.
This event, which is free and open to the public, is cosponsored by The Capital Times.
Four University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientists write in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that politicians should not interfere with the management of the Government Accountability Board (GAB). Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) recently called for the removal of GAB director Kevin Kennedy, saying the board was dysfunctional and undemocratic.
PROFS Steering Committee member Donald Moynihan, Barry Burden, David Canon, and Kenneth Mayer contend the board operates independently and faces criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. They write the board is comprised of former non-partisan judges nominated by the governor and approved by a majority of the State Senate. The six-member board has the authority to remove the director if they choose.
The four professors also cite a recent journal article that found the GAB to be the country’s top model for independent election administration. According to that article, Wisconsin has the only non-partisan multi-member elections board in the country.
The full column is here.
Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke will face off tonight in the first of two scheduled debates. The debate, sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, will be held at 7 pm in Eau Claire. It will follow a traditional format and be moderated by former Milwaukee broadcaster Jill Geisler.
A list of radio and television stations offering live and delayed coverage is here. Livestream coverage is available on the Wisconsin Public Television and Channel 3000 websites. An archived copy of the debate will also be available on the C-SPAN website.
The second debate will be held next Friday evening in Milwaukee.
The United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 last night to block implementation of Wisconsin’s voter identification law. Further action on the case is not expected until after the November election, meaning voters will not need to show identification at the polls next month.
Last month, a panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wisconsin’s law could be implemented while the court considered the constitutionality of the law. Opponents of voter identification legislation filed an emergency request to block the law with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, the justice responsible for the Seventh Circuit. Kagan took the case to the full court, which ruled last night. The court must now decide whether or not to hear the case.
The ruling is here.
PROFS opposed this legislation.
The Wheeler Report has published lists of candidates for legislative and constitutional offices in Wisconsin. Forty-seven — almost half — of the state’s Assembly candidates are running unopposed, while two of the 17 State Senate races are unopposed.
Statewide and Congress
General Election Wrap-up
2015-17 Biennial Budget
Last month, Governor Scott Walker directed state agencies to prepare their 2015-17 biennial budget requests, and the Board of Regents approved UW System’s budget proposal last week. The proposal includes $95.2 million for the “Talent Development Initiative,” the implementation of new performance measures, and statutory language changes related to compensation, including the ability to offer merit pay increases.
Budget request highlights:
- $30 million for a competitive grant program targeting six areas critical to the state’s economy: agriculture, finance, insurance/real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and water research.
- $27.3 to cover a pay plan funding gap. Historically, UW System funds about 30 percent of a pay plan increase with tuition dollars. The two-year tuition freeze has led to a funding gap, with many campuses holding insufficient reserves to cover the pay plan.
- $24.4 million to increase the number of college graduates statewide, with much of the funding directed to the Course Options program, a program that allows high school students to earn college credits. Additional funding would expand the Flex Option degree program, improve the credit transfer system, and assist working and first-generation college students.
- $22.5 million in one-time funding to assist with the creation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs. The money will be available to individual campuses through a competitive grant process.
The budget process is lengthy, beginning with formal introduction in January and final passage in late June. PROFS will be involved throughout the entire process and communicate regularly with faculty.
Last spring, Governor Walker announced an additional two-year freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition. The governor said his proposal was a direct result of the disclosure that UW System would finish 2013-14 fiscal year with almost $1 billion in reserve. The governor first called for a tuition freeze after UW System was found to have just over $1 billion in reserve.
Governor Scott Walker faces challenger Mary Burke, former Secretary of Commerce and Madison School Board member. Earlier this week, former UW-Madison professor Charles Franklin released a new poll showing the race continues to be a toss-up.
The legislature will experience its largest turnover since the 1970’s. Six state senators and 21 members of the assembly announced their retirement earlier this year. The fall primary was held earlier this month, and the outcome of one primary — the 17th Senate District — is still unclear.
Governor Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen recently asked a federal court to reinstate the voter identification law that was passed two years ago, but never enforced as a result of several state and federal court challenges. Many legal experts believe the current federal challenge will keep the law on hold through the fall elections. PROFS lobbied against voter ID legislation.
Wisconsin’s partisan primary election will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, August 12. Polls are open statewide from 7 am to 8 pm. Information on voting and how to locate polling places is here. Photo identification is not required to cast a ballot.
Many legislative races are uncontested, but there will be statewide primaries for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer:
Most incumbent legislators in Dane County face token or no opposition. However, first term Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) will face Middleton Republican Brent Renteria in the 79th Assembly District.
Two Democrats are vying to represent Assembly District 78: Alders Mark Clear and Lisa Subeck. The winner will be unopposed in the November general election and will almost certainly be elected. PROFS hosted a forum with both candidates last month.
Two Democrats are on the ballot in the 17th Senate District, the seat left open after Dale Schultz, a moderate Republican, announced his retirement. Voters will choose between Ernie Wittwer, a retired administrator with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and attorney and former legislative aide Pat Bomhack. The winner faces State Representative Howard Marklein in November.
Tomorrow’s election will also determine the Republican candidate for Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District. Congressman Tom Petri announced his retirement in April. Four Republicans are on the ballot tomorrow, including State Senators Glenn Grothman and Joe Leibham, Representative Duey Stroebel, and technical college instructor Tom Denow. The winner faces Democrat Mark Harris, Winnebago County Executive.
PROFS hosted Democratic candidates in the primary election for the 78th Assembly District on campus Monday evening. Political science professor Kathy Cramer, Interim Director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service, served as moderator. Candidates Mark Clear and Lisa Subeck, both Madison alders, responded to questions from the audience.
The primary election will be held Tuesday, August 12. More information on the fall primary, including absentee and early voting, is here.
Video courtesy of WKOW.
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