As chair of the MMSD School Board’s Legislative Committee for 2005-06, I post information about state and federal laws and legislative issues related to the Madison Schools on this blog under Hot Topics , Madison School Board Legislative Committee blog.
In June I asked MMSD staff for the committee, Joe Quick, for his ideas on future directions for the committee. My questions and his answers are available under as well as news reports and background materials.
My June memo to Legislative Committee:
At the first meeting of the Legislative Committee’s for 2005-06, I will ask the committee to review a plan of action for the year. I hope that we can meet with Dane County legislative representatives soon after we approve a plan. Their viewpoints should help us decide how to proceed.
In view of the Joint Finance Committee’s recommendations for the proposed biennial state budget, we must focus on the most promising strategies for reversing reductions in state support for K-12 schools. I have asked Joe Quick, the MMSD staff for the committee and longtime legislative liaison for the district, to help us get started by outlining a possible plan. I will review and revise the plan before presenting it to the committee.
Although I do not have Joe Quick’s experience with K-12 legislation, I served as the legislative lobbyist for a statewide healthcare union for many years and have previously served on the Legislative Committee as a citizen and member of the Board of Education. I look forward to working with the committee which includes citizen and Board members who also have prior experience working with the state legislature.
On June 11, I sent the following memo to Joe Quick.
Carol Carstensen appointed me to chair the Legislative Committee and communicated her goal for us to use the committee “more effectively”. I am trying to envision how the committee could become more effective.
I am asking for your guidance and ideas as staff. I believe that the committee should set its goals for the year only after it has the benefit of your advice and experience. I will convene the committee after you have drafted an outline for our consideration that answers these questions.
What should be our core message to the legislature and other advocates?
What should be our calendar for meetings and activities?
What resources will we need to convey our messages effectively?
What will be the role of staff and what should be the role of Legislative Committee members and Board members?
What should be our plan for building media support for our messages?
What barriers should we expect? (opposition from allies, positions of legislative majority, disconnect between MMSD calendar and legislative calendar, limits on the capacity of the Legislative Committee and Board of Education to commit time necessary for statewide organizing efforts???)
I am looking for a realistic and concrete plan for the next year of the Legislative Committee.
The response from our legislative liaison, Joe Quick:
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005
From: Joe Quick
To: RUTH ROBARTS
Cc: Art Rainwater, Carol Carstensen, Mary Gulbrandsen
Q: What should be our core message to the legislature and other advocates?
A: I think our core message should be the need to re-examine school funding particularly, school funding/revenue limits, underfunded mandates (specifically, special ed. & bilingual) and tax fairiness (given that the property tax payers burden is 70% residential compared to 40%in 1946).
Q: What should be our calendar for meetings and activities?
A: This can’t be determined until the committee decides its activities. the agenda the committee determines will dictate how often meeting is needed.
Q: What resources will we need to convey our messages effectively?
A: Our resources are “human” not financial. For example, fostering opportunities for Madison parent advocates to meet with parent advocates from say Racine, or Stoughton to discuss school funding issues would provide Madison parents/BOE members with a wider perspective.
Q: What will be the role of staff and what should be the role of Legislative Committee members and Board members?
A: To articulate the message of the need for tax fairness in order to prevent the annual ritual of cuts by school districts in order to comply with revenue limits.
Q: What should be our plan for building media support for our messages?
A: Let local media know about meetings with parent advocates from Racine and other communities and invite them to hear about the problems of school finance in OTHER communities.
Q: What barriers should we expect? (opposition from allies, positions of legislative majority, disconnect between MMSD calendar and legislative calendar, limits on the capacity of the Legislative Committee and Board of Education to commit time necessary for statewide organizing efforts???)
A: The barriers will be a Legislature that believes K-12 finances are adequate and posits that “tax fairness” is really just a “tax shift” and a governor and Legislature that campaigned for and was elected on a “no new taxes” platform. Certainly, the WI Manufacturers & Commerce will oppose and changes to the tax system unless the proposal provides another tax break.