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Letter to the editor- Retired seniors in the crosshairs again
Our demographic, retired seniors, living on fixed incomes, is rising every year and will for the next 17 years. A Social Security Administration report states the everyday 10,000 US citizens turn 65. Wisconsin is not immune to this fact. Local property taxpayers in this state have been in the crosshairs of referenda for some years now. The last few years have set records on the amount of school district referenda. There was 1.4 billion dollars two years ago and a half a billion last year. I testified at the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Education in Turtle Lake back in May. It was no secret that the K-12 funding was broken across this state for years. This Commission was to address this issue. This Commission failed miserably in my estimation. Why, this commission didn’t address the referendum issue. The referendum, by nature is unfair. While all eligible voters in a school district can vote on a referendum question, it’s the school district property taxpayers that get the tab. Totally unfair. One must remember that school boards are elected, and they can be elected out as well.
If you haven’t heard or read, Chippewa Valley Technical College is going after a referendum for the April 2020 state election. I attended the CVTC Board meeting last week as I make it a point to attend the CVTC Board meetings on a regular basis. The 16 tech districts in this state have appointed boards, not elected boards. The antiquated funding statutes of the Technical College System were created before the Viet Nam War was over with. Being a Viet Nam Vet, that’s a lot of years, folks. Technology at that time was what I call the dark ages. There was no Internet, no online classes, and the list goes on and on. I saw a preview of the survey for the referendum at the CVTC Board meeting. The amount of borrowing on the survey started at 45 million with increments of 10 million, up to 75 million.
For 17 years I have stated that the funding of all public higher education should be at the state level like the UW System. All these years I have been communicating with our elected officials that the Tech College System is the sacred cow of public higher education. Why do I say that, here’s a good example. Every year the Technical College Appointed District Boards across this state borrow millions and these millions are not accountable at the state level. There is not a state report addressing the total amount of dollars. I have contacted the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) numerous times over the years. The LFB is the nonpartisan fiscal watchdog of this state. I have contacted our local elected officials in western Wisconsin over all these years and not one has supported me or even attempted to make a change in Madison. I don’t see any attempt by our current elected officials in our area as well. At the CVTC board meeting it was estimated that building of a new residence hall would be 18 million alone. When Tech Colleges start building residence halls because the students want the same amenities as the UW System such as organized sports and extras that the UW System has in place…. that’s when I draw the line. I urge you to join me in writing your elected officials and voice your opinion that this is clearly over the top when appointed tech district boards, not elected boards, have the ability to borrow millions across this state every year and it is not even reported at the state level. That’s clearly a lack of transparency and accountability. What is so astounding to me is that student numbers across all levels of education are down across this state yet property taxpayers are hit with wheel taxes, county borrowing, and the list goes on. Our demographic is the elephant in the room which is being completely ignored at this time and the elephant will be getting larger and larger every year.