Joyce Bant’s letter “Walker’s reforms do work” (Viewpoint, Dec. 18) makes one a believer in the GOP maxim “Repeat our talking points often enough and soon people will believe them.”
She references the Nov. 15 WASDA Budget Service Analysis which you can access at dpi.state.wi.us/eis/pdf/wasdasurveyresults.pdf. The survey, contrary to Joyce’s assertions, shows the majority of school districts have had to cut the number of classes offered and preserving athletic programs has come at the cost of increased program fees. She states new teacher hires out numbering layoffs, but Table 1 of the survey paints a completely different picture. Why, because Joyce conveniently ignores the flood of retirees and non-renewals giving you a net loss of 1,676 positions. This does not include the loss of administrators, aides and support which brings the total loss to 3,447.
These losses occurred statewide, not just in the MPS. There were massive layoffs in the MPS, but the biggest impact on the state’s biggest district was the loss of approximately $84 million in state aid under Walker’s budget. She notes that Governor Walker didn’t force any district to implement his reforms. However, that is like giving a starving person the choice of dying or cannibalism. Walker and his lawmakers closed a budget gap by cutting state education funding by $409 million. That was the fifth highest cut in the nation, only exceeded by the likes of New York and California.
Along with this, a tight property tax levy written into the state budget resulted in a 1 percent drop in the school district levy. Walker then gave the districts “the tools” to recover this lost revenue, but even with teachers paying more of their health care and pension costs it still forced districts to downsize and cut programs. You don’t solve a problem by passing it off on somebody else.
Her reference to the WEAC newsletter proving that Walker was just following through on his campaign promise is devious. Well, the WEAC knew about the increase of pension contribution, and the take away of healthcare benefit negotiations, but the complete abrogation of bargaining rights was not a campaign promise.
By the way, it’s ironic that Walker and the GOP now don’t believe in recalls. When Milwaukee County Executive Ament retired in the face of a certain recall, Walker took full advantage and ran for Ament’s office. And recollect, weren’t Republicans all for recalling the wayward democratic Senators?
John Kocovsky, Hazelhurst