Reps in the News: Education Budget, Veterans, Immigration

Representative Joel Kitchens

Rep. Kitchens is generally pleased with the education portion of the budget recently signed by Gov. Tony Evers, but he’s still frustrated with the governor’s decision to veto a provision that would have ensured a minimum level of state aid to all school districts.

“Overall, I think this is a good education budget that moves us in the right direction, and I’m glad the governor decided to incorporate many of the final recommendations that came from the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding, of which I was the co-chair,” Kitchens said. “One area that I’m very disappointed in, however, is the governor’s decision to veto the minimum-aid provision. It’s something that we’ve been championing for a long time, and I thought we were finally going to get it done.”

When Gov. Evers was superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, he acknowledged in his Fair Funding for Our Future proposal that the state should be providing a minimum level of school aid for all public school students, regardless of the school they attend or where they live.

“I’m at a complete loss for why the governor made this veto,” Kitchens said. “I just don’t understand it.”

The 2019-21 budget passed by the Wisconsin Legislature would have provided at least $1,000 per pupil in state aid to every public school district in Wisconsin through a new categorical aid program. Kitchens said that would have greatly benefited school districts such as Gibraltar, Sevastopol and Washington Island.

Because of the current funding formula, higher-property-value districts get less state aid than lower-property-value districts, which puts more of a burden on those taxpayers and can lead to cuts in courses and staff. Kitchens said that just because a district may have high property values, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone who lives there is wealthy.

Under the governor’s veto, school districts such as Washington Island, Gibraltar and Sevastopol will be losing almost $300 per student in state aid compared to the budget passed by the state Legislature.

Source: Kitchens press release

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Sen. Baldwin and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) released the following statements after their Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need (HAVEN) Act passed the House Judiciary Committee:

“Forcing our veterans and their families to dip into their disability-related benefits to pay off bankruptcy creditors dishonors their service and sacrifice. I’m glad to see this important bipartisan legislation move forward in the House today,” Baldwin said. “These benefits are earned, and we must do right by our veterans and safeguard the disability benefits our veterans and their families depend on and provide the financial security they deserve.”

Sen. Cornyn said, “Veterans with disabilities deserve the hard-earned benefits they receive after serving our country. By protecting their disability compensation during bankruptcy, we can help them and their families regain financial stability.”

The HAVEN Act passed the full Senate last month as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019. The bipartisan reform would protect the economic security and well-being of veterans and their families who rely on disability benefits and may be experiencing financial hardship.

Source: Baldwin press release

Senator Ron Johnson

Citing the mistreatment of thousands of immigrant children on U.S. soil in detention centers, a civil-rights organization staged a demonstration outside Sen. Johnson’s Milwaukee office June 12.

Demonstrators filled the sidewalks outside Johnson’s office, carrying signs that read, “Senator Johnson, Have a Heart” and “My skin is not a probable cause,” and carrying aloft a cage with two infant dolls inside.

According to organizers with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), they presented the Senator with dozens of “babies in cages” at his Milwaukee office after LULAC officials said Johnson refused to meet with their organization about the thousands of immigrant and refugee children being held in detention centers across the southern United States.

Johnson chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. LULAC officials said his position on the committee could affect changes in these detention centers.


President Donald Trump

President Trump on Wednesday thanked the four Democratic Congresswomen he targeted in tweets that many considered racist after a conservative-leaning poll showed his approval rating at 50 percent.

Trump tweeted that the “vicious young Socialist Congresswomen” whom he urged to “go back” to the countries they came from were responsible for his Rasmussen daily tracking poll numbers increasing by 4 percent since Monday.

“New Poll: The Rasmussen Poll, one of the most accurate in predicting the 2016 Election, has just announced that ‘Trump’ numbers have recently gone up by four points, to 50%. Thank you to the vicious young Socialist Congresswomen. America will never buy your act!” Trump tweeted.

The president tweeted Sunday that the four lawmakers – Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) – should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four women were born in the U.S.

On Tuesday, the House voted to condemn Trump’s remarks as racist in a Democrat-led vote that won support from only four Republicans.