Senator Lasee Responds to Kitchens Listening Session Story

By Sen. Frank Lasee

Here they go again. I can see why so many people no longer trust the mainstream media. It’s intellectually disingenuous and professionally dishonest to write a slanted op-ed and call it “news.” I’m referring to an article I read in the Pulse ( that opened with the rhetoric, “gutted transparent government” and “fast-tracks questionable legislation.” While I understand that it’s hard for the media to write without any bias, that “news” was beyond the pale. This is my response to the inflammatory rhetoric called news.

First, claims that I said Act 10 was rooted in political retribution is a complete and utter fabrication. Act 10 was designed to provide tools for government entities to help them help themselves. Some have and it’s proven a huge cost savings. The MacIver Institute recently reported that it’s saved taxpayers over $5 billion in the last five years. Five billion dollars in savings works out to $910 in savings for every man, woman and child in Wisconsin, or $2,291 for every household in Wisconsin. That’s what it was designed to do!

The current per pupil spending for Door County Schools is as follows: $18,108 Gibraltar, $14,520 Sevastopol, $13,228 Sturgeon Bay, $12,195 Kewaunee, $12,004 Southern Door County, and $11,173 Luxemburg-Casco (source: DPI). For readers’ edification, and because it’s hardly ever reported, the national average per pupil is $10,700 and Minnesota’s is $11,500. Our schools are well-funded and the schools that have fully utilized the tools in ACT 10 have successfully shifted more money into the classroom and improved student education. Some schools have not used those tools to their full potential and instead of doing the work, have chosen to cry poor year after year. We have a world-class education system in this state, and I believe we can do even better for our kids with the resources we have.

Another issue which was mischaracterized in the recent Pulse article was my Private Property Rights Package which has already passed by a wide margin in the Assembly. These bills clarify the rights private property owners have on their own property. Throughout the months-long process, we worked with the DNR, environmental advocates, local governments, sportsman’s associations, and other groups to address many of their concerns and reach a balance that protects the environment, focuses DNR resources on the most sensitive matters, and improves property rights. AB 600 passed with the relative ease of 57 Republican votes.

Another bill that has been widely mischaracterized and reported on is my bill that would allow a municipality to sell their water or sewer infrastructure to a private organization. This was a measure that the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) brought forward to address the roughly two dozen struggling municipal water utilities in Wisconsin. Instead of the state taking them over, as was the case in Flint, Michigan, a private professional water utility company could be an option (similar to the already private power utilities). I’ll say that again, an option, that locally elected municipal officials could exercise if they decide it would be in the best interest of their constituents. The bill would increase local control. Before all the inflammatory rhetoric and intentional mischaracterization, the bill passed in the Assembly on a near unanimous vote (Republicans and Democrats).

To speak to claims of a veteran being blown off, my office staff are excellent. Two of my staff members are veterans themselves; all however would gladly respond to and help a fellow veteran. I suspect though that this is less about a response and more about demagoguery.

In closing, Churchill said, “Show me a man with no enemies and I’ll show you a man who has never taken a stand.” I stand for personal freedoms, liberty, and property rights. That’s what drives my legislative priorities and why I have some political enemies. I’m willing to fight for what I believe in and take a principled stand. To cower away from good legislation when the vote is tough is wrong.

As always, please get in touch with me with thoughts on bills, government issues, and concerns, or ideas to improve our government.

Editor’s note: Both the Senator and one of his aides, Adam Gibbs, have mentioned that the Public Service Commission (PSC) requested Senate Bill 432, which makes it easier for for-profit utilities such as Aqua America to do business in the state, on behalf of 20 or more Wisconsin communities seeking to divest themselves of public utilities. When asked for a list of those municipalities, Communications and Legislative Director of the PSC Elise Nelson said, “The PSC is unaware of any water utilities interested in selling/leasing to a private company.” There was no response from Lasee’s office when confronted with this factual discrepancy.

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