Just as Lacrosse School Superintendent, Jerry Kember, tried to get a clear picture as to what the district's financial state would be in the coming weeks......another bomb was dropped.
Wisconsin's public school administrators are being advised to approve preliminary layoff notices for staff by the end of the month -- even before they find out how much the state is expected to contribute to their budgets.
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards is urging local school officials to decide on staff cuts by Monday, or risk having those layoffs challenged later in court. State law requires school districts to provide staff layoff notices by March 15 for the following school year. Teachers must also receive a preliminary notice 15 days before that.
The state's collective bargaining law has allowed school boards to delay that deadline with the union's permission. Association attorney Barry Forbes says those deadlines could be wiped out with the passage of Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill.
Just because firefighters aren't the focus of a budget repair bill right now, doesn't mean they don't have their turn coming, says La Crosse firefighters union president, Jeff Murphy. That's why his guys have been protesting this month in Madison alongside teachers, nurses, prison guards and others. Murphy says the attack on unions has been presented disingenuously by governor Walker. Murphy says, if the governor wants to end collective bargains and kill the unions, announce that and don't try to 'fool' voters into thinking the move will save tax dollars.
Murphy says, when governor announces huge cuts in shared revenue in the state, cities like La Crosse will have no choice but to make major reductions in police and fire protection.
It wasn't a plum committee assignment in the first place. But that's not why La Crosse city council member Marilyn Wigdahl recently resigned from her spot on the city's chicken ordinance committee. Wigdahl says she was frustrated that other members were backing off their resistance to allowing backyard chickens in the city. Wigdahl has remained steadfastly opposed to chickens and says that most of her constituents appear to agree to that resistance. Wigdahl says the chickens will be vectors for disease, will cause vermin problems and will likely negatively affect home values in the city.
Minnesota's two year deficit problems are mountainous. Over six billion dollars in the red. A shortfall, one study found, that could be eliminated by simply getting rid of the state's various sales tax exemptions. But is there support for that? Maybe. First term Republican state senator Jeremy Miller from Winona says he may consider measures that would remove some targeted sales tax exemptions from certain services. But he would probably not agree to removing those sales tax exemptions for food or even clothing.
A hundred tickets for homeowners could have been written by now in La Crosse. It's been at least a hundred homes this winter that have had their snow-covered walks cleared by the city's contractor. And those property owners are already facing bills for the clearing: $2.50 per foot, plus a fifty dollar administration fee. But, so far, the city has yet to write a single ticket for a messy walk. The city engineer's office tells us, although it's not official policy, with sidewalk tickets they're generally adhering to the "three strikes and you're out" philosophy.