As Wisconsin’s legislators dive into the upcoming budget and the Joint Finance Committee ends their listening sessions across the state, there’s one demographic that is the elephant in the room.
I’m referring to the demographic of retired seniors, and others, living on fixed incomes.
This demographic will do nothing but increase in the upcoming years.
Currently we are being ignored at the local and state level. The antiquated funding statutes of the Wisconsin tech college system are still in place, even though it is a public higher education system and completely an individual choice to attend.
The antiquated funding statutes were created before the Vietnam War was over, and my generation was either serving our country or early in our careers. Technology was in its infancy and the internet didn’t exist, nor the modern methods of class delivery that exist today.
At the local level, it is taxation without representation, as these 16 tech district boards across the state are appointed, not elected.
These tech district boards have the ability to borrow millions of dollars with no state oversight, nor are they accounted for at the state level.
The K-12 system has experienced a level of school district referenda that has been unequalled these past years: $1.4 billion dollars of passed referenda in the November 2018 election and three quarters of a billion dollars in the April 2019 election.
The state created a Blue Ribbon Commission on Education that was to address the funding and other issues with the K-12 system which hadn’t been addressed in years. The BRC’s report was delivered to the state in January of this year.
The school district referenda tidal wave wasn’t addressed. Go figure. So far our elected officials we send to Madison seem to think raising property taxes is the answer.
Thus, the elephant in the room continues. The plight of retired seniors and others living on fixed incomes continues.
Will this year’s final budget address these unfair issues? We’ll see.
—Terry Nichols, town of Colfax