New Mr. Obvious Among Our GOP in Madison

Here is an incredible quote stating the obvious by Republican State Representative Jesse Kremer as part of his defense of his bill to allow concealed carry in UW buildings:

“How are we stopping them from carrying guns on campus?” he said. “We’re not.”

Well, no of course you are not, because the previous enacted concealed carry bill allows permit holders to carry their guns in the public areas on campus:

Under current law, people can carry guns on the grounds of public colleges and universities, but those schools can ban weapons inside campus buildings.

So yes people are most likely carrying concealed weapons on UW campuses exactly because the GOP majority in the legislature passed a law saying that they could…

Don’t get me started on the continued overreach of the anti-big government party as they continue to micro-manage the other public institutions and government agencies across the state.

There will be a follow up in this!

Walker Tone Deaf to Irony

Cleaning off my desktop…this probably should have been written while the governor was still vying for the GOP presidential nomination…but it still outlines his inability to see the bigger picture to what he is saying/doing. Of course safely back in Wisconsin where the media regularly give him a free pass…where he only speaks at closed invitation only sessions at businesses or organizations that support him…it’s less of an issue.

But let’s relive those thrilling days of yesteryear…well almost a month ago…when Governor Walker decided to give a major policy address (roundly ignored by the tea party, GOP and media) at President Reagan’s alma mater: Eureka College.

The irony here?

Standing on the stage where Ronald Reagan “found his voice,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sought to find his own Thursday as he promised to repeat his actions in Wisconsin by taking down federal workers’ unions on his first day in the White House.

Well Governor Walker totally overlooked how President Reagan found his voice…he was urging his fellow classmen to go on strike to protest budget cuts at the school! The king of education budget cuts doesn’t see the irony in this? The leader in handcuffing the world renowned University of Wisconsin system doesn’t get it…no, he didn’t get his eureka moment!

What The University of Wisconsin Is Actually Doing:

As Madison continues to debate cuts to the University of Wisconsin system as part of the state budget, there have been a couple of news items coming out of the university. One that is pretty important on the world health stage and one that is actually helping Governor Walker ‘create’ jobs.

Health: Group led by UW scientist develops whole virus Ebola vaccine

Another vaccine has joined the race against the often fatal Ebola virus, and this one was developed by a group led by a University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist internationally known for his bird flu research.

The whole virus vaccine that Yoshihiro Kawaoka and his colleagues developed was constructed using a novel experimental platform, and it has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the Ebola virus at a top biosafety-level National Institutes of Health laboratory in Montana, according to an article published Thursday in the prominent journal Science.

This vaccine differs from other Ebola vaccines in development because, as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it can prime the host immune system with the complete range of Ebola viral proteins and genes, which makes it more likely to trigger a robust immune response, according to a news release from UW-Madison.

Jobs: UW alums’ technology firm SnowShoe makes tracks to angel investors

The company creates pieces of plastic that can unlock digital content when touched to the screen of a smartphone or tablet, acting like a series of human fingertip touches that tell the phone what to do.

The devices, called SnowShoe Stamps, are created by 3-D printers at the company’s Madison facilities and have a wide range of uses.

“It’s the link to real-world objects and digital assets,” Moberg said.

The stamp costs about $1 to make, although the company is working to cut that down to about 50 cents. The young company has grown to eight full-time employees and a handful of contractors.

Yeah, so let’s cut state support of our world class university…makes all the sense in the world (sarcasm)!

Bucks Are More Important Than The University?

This morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel features an opinion piece by Alex Molinaroli, the chairman of Johnson Controls, Todd Teske, chairman of Briggs & Stratton Corp, and Tim Sullivan, former CEO of Bucyrus International.
They were touting the proposed Bucks arena as an important asset for Milwaukee and Milwaukee regional firms and why government should get involved in financing it. I will write more on that later.

In their opinion piece they also mention in passing, the importance of education to the growth of the region:

People may not come to Milwaukee for the weather, but they will stay for the quality of life. We must invest in assets that bolster our quality of life, and our quality of place, to keep us distinctive and attractive as a business location.

Our educational options, quality health care, environmental sustainability and diverse neighborhoods are all factors that define quality of life. Investments in the cultural, arts, recreational and entertainment offerings help distinguish our quality of place. Smartly investing in these assets provides Milwaukee with attributes that make it, well, a smart place to locate if you want to retain and attract talent. We spend almost $2 billion per year on K-12 education, and we should. Quality education helps ensure Milwaukee’s livability.

Quality education helps insure MKE’s livability…yet the leaders of three of Milwaukee’s biggest businesses decided to write an opinion piece in favor of a new sports arena instead of calling out Madison for cuts to public education and Wisconsin’s world class university. Where exactly do they think their next generation of employees is going to come from?

Sen. Ron Johnson Blames Student Debt Crisis On Young Wisconsinites

from that invigorating email inbox comes this presser from the College Democrats of Wisconsin:

March 26, 2015
RELEASE: Sen. Ron Johnson Blames Student Debt Crisis On Young Wisconsinites, Says It Is Too Easy To Get Student Loans

When asked about the rising cost of a college education at an event this past Saturday, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson blamed the problem of student debt on young Wisconsinites and argued that it was too easy to get student loans. Sen. Johnson, who has repeatedly voted against legislation to tackle the problem of student loan debt, claimed that students think “it’s kind of free money, young people don’t necessarily understand finance.” According to Sen. Johnson, “it’s pretty easy to get a federal loan, college is fun.” In response to Sen. Johnson’s comments, College Democrats of Wisconsin Vice Chair Phoenix Rice-Johnson released the following statement.

“Sen. Ron Johnson’s recent remarks are on par with Mitt Romney’s ‘47%’ comments in terms of ignorance and elitism. Rather than address the problem of student loan debt, Sen. Johnson has chosen to shamelessly insult the intelligence of Wisconsin students. Across the state, students work multiple jobs in addition to attending class, only to graduate with an average of $22,400 in debt. The average student borrower pays nearly $400 a month for almost 19 years. The problem is not young people’s understanding of finance – the problem is out-of-touch politicians like Sen. Johnson who have let Wisconsin’s student debt crisis spiral out of control.

Sen. Johnson’s previous votes against common sense student debt reform have already shown his lack of commitment to college affordability. These recent comments give students across the state crystal clear proof that Sen. Johnson neither respects us nor values our concerns. In 2016, young Wisconsinites will remember his words.”

Watch the video of Sen. Johnson’s remarks:
Read about his comments in The Hill:

When Almost $300 Million Is A Lot Of Money But $300 Million Isn’t.


Governor Walker is facing a $283 deficit in the current budget that has to be satisfied before the end of June 2015. As we have all read here and in the other media, one of the sleight of hand tricks up every governor’s sleeve is deferring paying principal on state government debt and incurring further interest expenses for the taxpayers. But as Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayer’s Alliance, is quoted in a Bloomberg Politics article, that’s a lot of money to find through cuts:

“They need some cash,” said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, a nonpartisan research group that examines taxes and government spending. “This is kicking the can down the road.”

Berry said Walker has little room to maneuver.

“That’s a lot of money to try to find in four-to-five months, if you do it through cuts,” Berry said.

So it will be extremely hard for the governor to find $283 million in cuts from a $40 billion budget before the end of June while the University of Wisconsin should have no problem finding $300 million in cuts from a $7 billion budget in essentially the same time frame (actually a shorter period because the actual state budget probably won’t be complete before April).

Maybe if the governor stayed home a bit more, he’d have time to work this out. Ya think?

Governor Walker Already Reneges On UW Budget Proposal

As part of Governor Walker’s budget proposal to reduce state support of the University of Wisconsin System by $300 million, the university is supposed to gain additional flexibility in operations and the expiration of the tuition freeze in 2017.

Under Walker’s proposal this year, the Legislature would have no ability to stop the university from raising tuition as much as it wants starting in 2017.

But apparently the governor had too much time to mull the plan over and decided he didn’t like the idea of the university setting it’s own tuition…so he’s already changed his mind:

Gov. Scott Walker raised the prospect Thursday of limiting tuition increases at University of Wisconsin schools to inflation after his proposed freeze expires in two years.

That set the stage for a debate over whether imposing a cap on resident undergraduate tuition once the UW System were spun off from the state as an autonomous public authority would immediately take back a critical part of that authority.

Tuition has been frozen by Walker and the Legislature since the 2013-’14 school year and Walker wants to extend that through 2016-’17. On Thursday, he said he was open to putting a lid on future tuition increases — even though he has proposed giving tuition authority to the UW System and its Board of Regents as part a new UW System Public Authority.

This has got nothing to do with finance or the economy or education. This is all about power!

UW System: Shut Her Down Redux

Recently I posted a suggestion on how the University of Wisconsin system can make up for the $300 million cuts to their support from the State of Wisconsin as proposed by Governor Scott Walker. With a little bit of snark and a bit of sarcasm I have suggested that the University System close some marginal campuses until they reach the $300 million dollar amount or so. But there is some logic behind it…and I’ll expound on it a bit.

$300 million is a lot of money even in the universe of the state budget and the university budget. It will be difficult for the university to accomplish…and I don’t think they can do it by cutting the lawns less frequently, turning the thermostats to 66 next winter or buying cheaper toilet paper if that’s even possible.

They are going to have to lay off a lot of people and possibly reduce offerings at many of their campuses. A lot of difficult decisions will have to be made and a lot of people’s lives will be affected: faculty, staff, students, and vendors.

Now it seems that this shouldn’t be in Governor Walker’s wheel house because it will result in job loss when he’s hard pressed already to create jobs. But these are ‘public’ jobs…not private sector jobs so they aren’t real jobs. Government doesn’t create jobs…well except when you have campaign promises to make.

But let’s face it…if they lay off 500 at Milwaukee, 1000 at Madison, 300 at Whitewater, 80 at Platteville, etc, etc, etc…whether faculty or staff…there will be angry letters to the editor, hand wringing all round, but a year from now other than the victims…nobody will remember. And if 150,000 people in the streets of Madison in a cold February didn’t quash Act 10…don’t expect that Madison will be swayed by a bunch of liberal academics. Playing nice ain’t gonna get it.

So my suggestion stands. There are a number of campuses that run at a loss…that have debt. Shut them down. There are some rather small campuses that could be shut down to get us to the $300 million figure. Yes I understand that they serve small communities that need higher education opportunities too…but the hard decisions need to be made and something’s got to go. Those rural students can go to Green Bay or Oshkosh or Milwaukee…assume those campuses survive.

They can’t go to Madison cause after 2017 only the rich will be able to afford to go there…or those who can contribute to the research facilities.

The GOP is fond of saying we should run government like a business…schools get better when they have to compete. Here’s where it hurts. If Macy’s needs to cut overhead they don’t lay off one associate per store…they close marginal stores in stagnant markets. Cut the universities marginal stores…if they are in red zones so much the better.

Like I said…proportional cuts across the system will be forgotten in a year’s time. Closing a campus that is an economic engine in a smaller community or county will hurt. Laying off 1,500 people there will have a far bigger impact that will be noticeable for years. Six or Eight or Twelve or Twenty boarded up buildings on a deserted campus will be highly visible. Yes this is brinkmanship…but at some point push does have to lead to shove. Yes sometimes it does.

Yes…there is a bit of snark here. I realize that the University of Wisconsin is not a business nor a product…and it’s job is to create educated citizens of all types…but those under the dome don’t get it.

University of Phoenix Secures Naming Rights to UW System


After successfully hosting Super Bowl XLIX (or whatever) at University of Phoenix Stadium and smelling blood in the water, the University of Phoenix today bought the naming rights to the University of Wisconsin system for the next two years starting July 1, 2015. Terms were not disclosed publicly but a source who asked not to be named because she/he wasn’t authorized to discuss the negotiations, confirmed the agreed amount was in the neighborhood of $300 million!