By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — The battle for Wisconsin came to Wisconsin this week, with visits from the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns.
Wisconsin teachers stood by their striking Chicago brethren, while Madison educators took some heat for traveling well on the taxpayers’ dime, according to one report.
And U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has a plan to stop the implementation of President Barack Obama’s health-care reforms, even if the GOP can’t gain enough seats in November to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
VP candidates stump
Vice President Joe Biden courted young voters at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Thursday, a day after GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan campaigned for middle-income earner votes near Green Bay.
Recent polls indicate the presidential race has tightened over the past few weeks in Wisconsin — in part, analysts say, due to the addition of Ryan, the congressman from District 1.
“When (Mitt Romney) was governor of Massachusetts, unemployment went down, family household income went up,” Ryan said. “He presided over an increase in the credit rating of his state.”
By contrast, he said, “Under President Obama, we’ve had unemployment above 8 percent for 43 months. Family household income on average has gone down $4,000, and we’ve had the first downgrade of United States credit in our history, and another one is threatening to come. That’s not leadership.”
Teachers take a stand
Wisconsin teachers and schools made headlines left, right and center this week.
MTI is putting together a caravan of solidarity soldiers to walk the picket lines with the Chicago Teachers Union — if needed — on Saturday.
“We are investigating a large scale car-van pool or the possibility of bus transportation,” the organization’s website states. “Wear Red, bring your Solidarity! and your comfortable pair of shoes.”
About 29,000 Chicago teachers, members of CTU, began striking Monday after contract negotiations with the Chicago Public School Board broke down over the weekend.
The Madison school district also took heat this week from EAGnews.org, flagship website of the Michigan-based Education Action Group, a nonprofit conservative organization that advocates for education reform.
Spending included $15,474.22 charged July 13, 2011, at Hyatt Hotels in Chicago.
And, in another bit of school-related news, local governments and school boards apparently owe a bit of money in back payments to the Wisconsin Retirement System.
At the end of 2010, the most recent data available (p155), Wisconsin school districts owed WRS almost $66 million. In total, the fund was owed nearly $131 million by various government bodies, via the taxpayer.
The Edgerton School Board, for example, recently passed a resolution asking voters to approve a $2.98 million bond to pay off its debt — or unfunded liability — to WRS. After a decade or so of interest-only payments, the Edgerton School Board wants to begin to pay down its obligation. The amount now owed to WRS is more than three times the $784,014 the district contributed toward staff pensions in 2011, and about a third of overall payroll.
Johnson takes aim at health-care reform
Republican U.S. Sen. Johnson aims to push back what he sees as an Internal Revenue Service power grab and knock a huge hole into the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that the U.S. Supreme Court largely upheld earlier this year.
Johnson’s Senate Joint Resolution 48, which he introduced in late July, about a month after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, goes after an IRS rule on “premium assistance credits,” which subsidize health-insurance premiums in health-care exchanges.
The senator and others see the IRS rules as an end around to the health-care law, which requires states to set up health-care exchanges through which subsidies are paid to cover insurance premiums. In 2016, the Affordable Care Act, for example, will provide a $10,000 insurance subsidy to uninsured individuals in households earning $64,000 per year, bloating the cost of government entitlements and debt, Johnson told Wisconsin Reporter.
The law tweak would push the subsidies and penalties for businesses that drop employee health-care insurance through federal channels, not through the states as the health-care act outlines.
Contact Kirsten Adshead at email@example.com.