7 January 2012Dear Scott Walker,
Thanks for taking my advice! I see that you did, indeed, send a revised "E-Update" [below] to (some of) your constituents yesterday! Not entirely sure why I didn't receive this update at the email address to which you sent the last one, but I hope that I remain on your mailing list. If it is your policy to remove concerned constituents from this list, I fear we have a serious problem. And if it is your policy to send different "versions" of your updates to different "lists," I fear we have even more serious problems.
I wanted to clarify, though, that when I recommended you send "a revised or redacted" version of the update, I didn't mean you should send one in which the same errors (or "lies," depending on your perspective), were just slightly more ambiguous and misleading. In the original email, your figures were so blatantly off that a cursory glance made obvious that you seemed to be just making up the numbers you cited. This revised email is actually worse, as it just provides unverified generalizations that belie the facts of the damage you have done to our state. Most glaring are the sections on job creation and property taxes. Property taxes are up significantly even as property values decrease all over the state, and your bad math on this issue has been repeatedly exposed over the past year, with experts assessing that the average Wisconsinite will continue to see property taxes increase over the next two years. Wisconsin now leads the nation in job loss and lack of economic growth, as the chart below makes glaringly obvious. As the rest of the nation begins to see real economic growth under collaboration with President Obama's job plan, Wisconsin stands out like a sore thumb and continues to suffer under your all-tax-cuts, no-jobs, nothing-to-negotiate policy:
I am also concerned, since it's obvious that you have launched your recall campaign full force, that these "updates" consitute a very thinly veiled attempt to use taxpayer funds to distribute campaign propaganda. Since it took a full year of being in office to start considering it "one of [your] most important duties...to provide [us] directly with updates" and this timing just happens to coincide with your recall campaign, I suspect a misuse of your office that violates campaign laws. I hope that you will take seriously your responsibility in providing accurate information in the future and not use taxpayer funds to campaign for reelection through "free advertising" in the form of electronic "updates" that simply repeat worn talking points from your campaign ads.
I am also concerned that, having changed the law this year to allow the State to file in a district of your choosing, you now plan to misappropriate the funds you have raised during the recall period. The letter of the law [SS 11.26 (13)(m)] is very clear on this issue: the whole reason you're allowed this period of unlimited fundraising is to finance the legal fees associated with the costs of signature verification for the recall petitions, which the recall Statutes make clear is the burden of the incumbent. Given the Waukesha judge's ruling this week, this burden would be shifted to the taxpayer. I trust that you intend to offer the funds you have raised for this purpose since November to the GAB, since you are so clearly concerned with not imposing unnecessary expenses on the taxpayers of Wisconsin. I am also concerned that your decision to "change the rules midstream," as has been succinctly critiqued by law professor Edward Fallone, reflects an agenda that has, from the start, been about gaining access to these unlimited funds more than justice. This would explain why you chose to change the law about where you can file a lawsuit rather than the Statute you found unfair, and also why a Republican false-start on the recall petition filing gave you an extended fundraising period. Given the continuing John Doe investigation and your history of connections to campaign fraud and embezzlement charges (as evidenced most recently in the felony charges against three of your associates, including your long-time campaign aide and Milwaukee County GOP Treasurer Timothy Russell), I find this lack of transparency extremely troubling. I request that in your next update you disclose what you will do with the "unlimited" funds you've raised since Nov. 5, 2011, which the law demands be used for the purpose of legal challenges you've just claimed you should not be responsible for. If you accept the judge's ruling, you should offer those funds to the State to be used for their intended purpose.
Heather DuBois Bourenane
01/06/12 04:19 PMGovWalkerNewsletter@wisconsin.gov
E-update from the Desk of Governor Scott Walker
One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government. In an effort to improve communication, periodically I will be sending out an e-update to provide you with more information about what is going on in state government. Please feel free to share this update with your family, friends, and others who may be interested in state government operations.
Read for the Future
Making sure Wisconsin students know how to read by the fourth grade is critical to their education and success in the future. We need to make sure we are not failing them.
There is no skill more important than reading. Yet, over the past two decades, students in other states have been improving their reading achievement on national measures faster than students in Wisconsin. The results from the 2011 NAEP reading assessment for 4th grade students show that while Wisconsin once ranked among the very top states in the nation, we now rank somewhere in the middle of the pack. The literacy skills a child acquires in the early years of life provide the foundation for all later learning, and research has demonstrated that a child who is reading on grade level by the end of third grade is far more likely to graduate from high school than a student who is not.
In an effort to dramatically improve reading outcomes in Wisconsin, I convened the Read to Lead Task Force in the Spring of 2011. We reviewed the state of reading in Wisconsin and developed a plan for improvement. The impressive team of teachers, legislators from both political parties, researchers, and advocates worked together to reach a consensus on ways to ensure all of Wisconsin's children learn to read before they reach fourth grade. Specifically I was happy to partner with State Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers, State Senator Luther Olsen, and Representative Steve Kestell.
The recommendations of the Read to Lead Task Force focus on improvements and changes in teacher preparation and professional development; screening, assessment and intervention; early childhood; accountability; and family involvement. They include:
- Implementing early literacy screening for all kindergarteners in Wisconsin to identify and intervene with struggling students as soon as they enter school;
- Implementing improvements to teacher preparation programs around early reading, including a new, more rigorous exam for reading educators;
- Requiring that the professional development plans for all new elementary educators explicitly focus on literacy, and require focused professional development educators whose students continually struggle to improve their performance;
- Providing new, aggressive professional development opportunities to enhance the skills of current reading educators, including a new online professional development portal at http://www.readwisconsin.net and an annual reading conference for elementary principals and district reading specialists; and
- Creating a new public/private partnership to engage Wisconsin philanthropic groups and businesses around the goal of ensuring every child can read by the end of third grade.
The Task Force's recommendations also focus on how the state will hold our institutions accountable for improving reading results. Specifically:
- Wisconsin's new educator effectiveness system, released in November 2011, will require a portion of every educator's evaluation to be based on growth in statewide reading scores;
- Wisconsin's new school and district accountability system, still under development, will place additional weight on third grade reading performance to underscore the importance of reading on grade level at that critical year; and
- Schools and districts underperforming in reading will be required to implement targeted improvements, including a science-based reading program.
I am proud of the work of this non-partisan Task Force. Working together I believe we have developed an important plan to improve reading in Wisconsin, laying the foundation for our students to excel.
One Year on the Job
Over the course of the first year serving as your Governor I made a number of promises aimed at improving our state. Unlike many office holders who often make promises that they do not keep, I followed through on a number of important initiatives aimed at reforming government and leaving our kids and grandkids with a state better off than the one we received. Below is a listing of the major promises I took action on during my first year on the job.
- I promised to balance Wisconsin's $3.6 billion budget deficit without increasing taxes or requiring massive public employee layoffs. On June 26th signed into law the 2011-13 budget. This balanced budget makes tough choices while providing a path to recovery and prosperity for our state and our people. Through honest budgeting, we are providing an alternative to the reckless tricks and gimmicks of the past. Just as any parent would dread leaving their kids in debt, it is the dream of every mother and father to leave their children a little better off, and that's what our budget will do.
- I promised to call the Legislature into Special Session to pass pro-growth legislation aimed at helping employers create jobs. Earlier this year I signed legislation into law improving Wisconsin's litigation climate, improving the state's regulatory process, creating the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, creating a tax credit for employers that create jobs, and making health savings accounts tax deductible. In these challenging economic times while Illinois is raising taxes, we are lowering them. On my first day in office I called a Special Session of the legislature, not in order to raise taxes, but to open Wisconsin for business. I am pleased to sign into law bills that provide tax relief to small businesses, create a job-friendly legal environment, lessen the regulations that stifle growth, and expand tax credits for companies that relocate here and grow here.
- I promised to help the private sector create 250,000 new jobs by 2015. After 3 years of net private sector job losses totaling 150,000, in the first 11 months of 2011 Wisconsin had a net increase of thousands of new jobs. Because of the hard work done so far to improve Wisconsin's business climate, employers are willing to grow and invest in our state. That is good for middle class working families and it is good for Wisconsin. We are on our way to creating 250,000 jobs by 2015, but there is more work to be done in order to meet and surpass that goal.
- I promised to pay off the debts and fund raids of the past. Working with the Legislature we were able to pay off $800 million in unpaid bills, including $235 million to the Patient's Compensation Fund and $58 million owed to the state of Minnesota. These are huge steps toward restoring confidence in our state's ability to manage its finances. The era of illegal fund raids, job killing tax increases, one time money being used for ongoing operations, and massive budget deficits has ended. Paying off outstanding bills, operating under a balanced budget, and working on bipartisan, pro-growth initiatives sends a clear message to job creators that Wisconsin is open for business.
- I promised to take politics out of the woods. Last year I appointed a Whitetail Deer Trustee and held a roundtable to listen to the concerns of hunters. The Deer Trustee will provide an independent evaluation, study Wisconsin's deer management practices, and make recommendations. It is vitally important that hunters, sportsmen and women, and conservationists trust the state to be a partner in helping to effectively sustain our deer populations. The Deer Trustee will help ensure they have confidence in Wisconsin's deer herd management practices.
- I promised to freeze property taxes. The budget signed into law and reforms are saving taxpayers hundreds of dollars. For the first time in six years the school portion of the property tax levy went down one percent on average across the whole state. Our reforms are protecting taxpayers while keeping our schools great. Taxpayers are seeing their levies go down for the first time in six years, while our schools continue to meet the needs of Wisconsin students.
It has been a pleasure communicating with you. It is an honor to serve as your Governor and represent the residents of Wisconsin.
Governor Scott Walker
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