Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is Baraboo the next Kaukauna lie?

Caught this running over the wires and had to comment. Apparently the Baraboo School Board was able to cut their tax levy by $1.2 million for the 2011-2012 year, a nice savings of about 8.5% vs. last year. But not unlike the Kaukauna case me and a number of others exposed earlier this month, Scott Walker and surrogate Luther Olsen deserve little to no credit for that happening. In fact, their actions led to more distress than was ever necessary.

As the Baraboo News-Republic story points out, the Baraboo School District cut its spending by $1.6 million through the increased health care contributions by its teachers, and a one-year switch in insurance carriers. However, all that did is nearly make up for a $1.85 million cut from the state and in fact, still left Baraboo $250,000 in the hole, and they'd still have to cut $250,000 from expenses just to make the tax levy the same. So how did Baraboo really cut people's taxes? A few paragraphs down tells the real story.
Last year, the district made a final payment of $1.7 million on bonds used remodel Baraboo High School more than a decade ago, [Finance Committee Chair] McNevin said.

"That debt drops to a quarter of a million dollars for the next two years, then it's gone," McNevin said.

And the School Board's budget document bears this out. Check out the "State Sources" revenue near the top of the first page and "Debt Service" numbers near the bottom of Page 1. The debt service decrease is actually $1.75 million, which if you put it together with the $250,000 in the hole Baraboo was due to Walker's cuts, and you have a $1.5 million surplus which you can add to, or cut the tax levy with.

Baraboo had another item working in its favor, as the article notes a huge amount of veteran teachers have left because they don't want to put up with Walker's anti-education BS.
.... in the aftermath of a large number of retirements at the end of the last school year, about a third of the district's educational staff members will be in their first or second year of teaching. The district is responding by developing a mentoring program to help inexperienced staff members hone their classroom skills.

That's extra expense that wouldn't have been necessary if the anti-education policies hadn't gone through, because many of those teachers would have stuck around. And it's telling that Local Sources (revenue sources 200) actually goes up by $500,000 for next year, which is a good indication of what to expect in future years, especially as the one-time fixes end.

Baraboo is a very symbolic district to have this take place in. It's State Rep. Fred Clark's hometown, and an area that has swung Dem over the last 15-20 years. Clark's also narrowly ahead of recalled State Sen. and Education Committee Chair Luther Olsen in a poll released today, and you can bet Olsen and his campaign will try to point to this property tax cut as proof that he and the Fitzwalkerstanis' policies are working for education.

However, just like the Kaukauna School district case, and the claim that Wisconsin was responsible for half the job growth in the U.S., the Republican spin is BLATANTLY UNTRUE. Baraboo's property tax cut is the result of many years of debt payments for their new high school going off the books, and have almost nothing to do with the Wisconsin GOP's collective bargaining moves and property tax limits.

And if they try to tell you otherwise, it is your patriotic duty to get in their face, give them the facts, and tell them it's BULLSHIT.

No comments:

Post a Comment