Everything Vital Emphatically Repealed, Suckers

James Wigderson appeared on WTMJ radio’s Steve Scaffidi show, and, as Wigderson’s RightWisconsin reports:

“Tony Evers is definitely the weakest of the Democratic candidates because he has a record of not doing anything that he should be doing as Superintendent of Schools,” Wigderson said. “They’re going to hammer him. They’re going to start hammering him on his inability to take away a teacher’s license that was viewing pornography in the classroom.”

Wigderson also pointed out Evers’ mistake in entertaining the idea of raising the gas tax $1 per gallon.

“Tony Evers stumbled right out of the block when he got asked about gas taxes and he said everything’s on the table when they threw the figure of a dollar at him,” Wigderson said. “His campaign later tried to backtrack on it, but when Tony Evers says sure, a dollar per gallon is on the table, that’s going to haunt him between now and November.”

About the teacher’s license, Rick Esenberg reports:

A recent ad from the Republican Party of Wisconsin goes after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers for failing to commence revocation proceedings against Andrew Harris, a Middleton-Cross Plains teacher who viewed pornographic images on his school computer. Evers, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, claims he was powerless, going so far as to claim that seeking revocation would have been “breaking the law.”

This last claim is ridiculous. Evers would have broken no law by attempting to revoke Harris’ license. In fact, Evers would have had a plausible argument in support of revocation. He might not have prevailed in court had the decision been challenged, but the argument could have been made. Evers made a choice. He decided not to go after a teacher who had viewed pornographic images on his computer, shared them with at least one other teacher and who was alleged to have made sexual remarks about middle school students. His claim that he had no choice is wrong. Here’s why.

The decision to start a legal proceeding is usually a matter of assessing probabilities. Very often, a legal claim – in this case whether a teacher’s license can be revoked for viewing porn at school – is neither clearly right nor clearly wrong. Evers, who had to decide whether to try to take this teachers’ license, had to decide whether the he had a plausible argument in support of revocation, not whether revocation was clearly required. He could then decide whether the need to get such a teacher out of the classroom was worth the effort. He had to make a choice.

At the time of the Harris incident as now, a teacher’s license could be revoked for ‘immoral conduct.” At the time, however, immoral conduct was defined as “conduct or behavior that is contrary to commonly accepted moral or ethical standards and that endangers the health, safety, welfare or education of any pupil.” After this incident, the legislature changed the law to make clear the viewing pornographic material at school constituted immoral conduct for revocation purposes, the matter was less clear at the time. While no one seems to have doubted that viewing pornographic materials was contrary to commonly accepted moral or ethical standards, the question was whether Harris had endangered “the health, safety, welfare or education of any pupil.”

Evers’ argument seems to be that teachers can engage in immoral conduct on school property as long as it does not directly impact students and students have not seen it and, perhaps, would have been unlikely to see it. Perhaps. But a credible argument can be made that this goes too far. Conduct that presents a risk of discovery or that is incompatible with teaching middle school students might very well be said to “endanger” those students. While prior case law has called into question (although the Supreme Court has not decided) whether a teacher’s license can be revoked simply because he or she has done something away from school that is incompatible with being a good “role model,” behavior at school presents a different level of risk. Imagine – well, you don’t have to because it has happened – teachers who have had sex in an unused classroom after hours. Imagine teachers who convened a clandestine Klan meeting in the teachers’ lounge. Is revocation impossible because no student has happened along?

Although efforts by the Middleton-Cross Plains school district to fire Harris were unsuccessful, Evers’ was free to start revocation proceedings. He might not have been successful, but there was a plausible argument in support of revocation. Evers chose not to proceed. To respond to the Republican Party ad, he ought to defend that choice and not deny that he made it.

Eserberg covers what Evers did (not do). Sam Morateck covers what Evers wants to do:

Following his victory in the Democratic primary for governor [last] Tuesday night, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers made big promises on education but omitted any plans for funding them in his victory speech.

“I will make the largest investment in early childhood education that our state has ever seen,” Evers said. He added, “In my first budget I will finally return to two thirds funding for our public schools.”

Last month Evers announced his education plan which included an additional $600 million dollars in special education funding. The Journal Sentinel noted that Evers’ additional funding request would equal $969 million for special education funding in the next biennial budget, which would be up 163% from the current $369 million.

As for the two-thirds funding promise, Dr. Will Flanders of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty said it would cost state government $1.5 billion.

So how would these monumental increases to education be paid for? According to his school finance reform plan, all these historic increases in funding will somehow be offset by the decline in local school property taxes and the elimination of the School Levy Tax Credit (SLTC).

“This plan holds the line on property taxes,” Evers’ plan said. “In the first year of the plan, gross statewide school property taxes are estimated to decrease by more than 18% – more than when the state instituted the two-thirds funding commitment in the 1990s. In net terms (i.e. when the impact of the SLTC is considered), net statewide school property taxes are estimated to be held at 0%.”

Media Trackers spoke with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) Director of Health & Human Resources Policy Chris Reader, who was skeptical on Evers’ plan. He pointed out that funding for his plan may compromise important reforms such as the manufacturer and agriculture tax credit, which has helped attract employers to Wisconsin.

“You certainly cannot fund education by putting more taxes onto businesses and homeowners, which if we would eliminate a tax credit for property owners that’s what would happen,” Reader said. “You also cannot fund education by taxing employers more by eliminating important reforms from recent years like the manufacturer and agriculture tax credit which have helped pull employers into our state, and that’s another area he wants to eliminate.”

Reader said Evers’ increased spending on education will have to come from somewhere.

“We have record investment in education right now in Wisconsin and that’s a good thing,” Reader said, “You can’t just continue to put huge sums of money into it just to one up your opponents without it raising taxes somewhere. Whether it’s going to raise property taxes or income taxes on employers, it will result in increased taxes, unless he highlights what other programs around the state he wants cut.”

Ever’s additionally told WISC-TV he would “absolutely” repeal Act 10 if elected governor, which the MacIver Institute estimated to have saved school districts $3.2 billion in benefits costs since it’s passage in 2011. While Evers also promises to raise funding for healthcare and transportation, his promises leaves one to wonder at where all this money is going to come from.

In case Evers is unable to do math, eliminating a property tax credit does not cut property taxes. Eliminating a property tax credit increases property taxes.

Meanwhile, this might be old news, but as far as I know Evers has not repudiated what he said back in December to Wisconsin Public Radio:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers is calling for stricter gun laws in Wisconsin in the wake of Sunday’s deadly shooting in Las Vegas.

Evers said Tuesday he would support more rigorous background checks for gun buyers, a state gun owners registry, and a ban on an accessory that helps semi-automatic guns perform more like automatic weapons.

“We just have to have some honest conversations,” Evers said. “And I think now is an appropriate time. I think we can grieve and also think about the future.”

Evers, who has been the state schools superintendent since 2009, has also said he opposes a bill in the Legislature that would allow concealed weapons on school grounds.

Care to guess how long gun rights survive in this state if Evers becomes governor and Democrats take over both houses of the Legislature?



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