Internal correspondence obtained by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism confirms discussions about the possible dismantling of the bureau and a reorganization that would move researchers into other agency divisions.
Critics, both inside and outside the agency, say such a reorganization would rob the state of impartial science that should guide critical natural resource management decisions.
With the Wisconsin Educational Approval Board on the chopping block in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget, EAB Executive Secretary David Dies fears the for-profit schools it oversees will ramp up practices that could harm students.
Some of Walker’s proposals appear to be policy changes with little or no fiscal impact. Wisconsin governors and lawmakers from both parties have often injected these into the budget. Walker, as a candidate for governor in 2010, made an unequivocal pledge to “strip policy and pork projects from the state budget.” By his first budget, this promise was labeled “broken.”
This blanket exemption would spare the UW from needing a good reason to deny access to these records, as current law requires. Instead, universities could categorically spurn inquiries from citizens, media and even lawmakers looking into controversial research, potential threats to public safety, conflicts of interest or how tax dollars are spent.
The employees said they acted to protect public safety in restricting the contractor’s ability to service a particular elevator model. But the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, responding to complaints filed with an office created by Gov. Scott Walker to assist small businesses, accused the employees of violating workplace rules and nullified this restriction.
Walker, a possible presidential contender, says this extraordinary spending owes to extraordinary circumstances, like the opposition he faced from unions and others. Absent these factors, “my guess is, at least in the gubernatorial election, I doubt you’re ever going to see something that high again.”
And on a presidential run: “I don’t think people should just run particularly for office as high as that because it’s the next logical step or it’s part of adding a career, in this case in politics,” Walker said in an end-of-year interview. “I think it’s something you should feel like you’re actually called, that there’s a purpose, there’s a reason for doing it.”
Two family planning clinics serving low-income women say their operations will be at serious financial risk if state auditors stand firm on claims that they overbilled Medicaid by $3.5 million, largely for birth control drugs and devices.
“My hunch is that if any one of us were audited it would come out the same way. We’re all operating the same way,” said Beth Hartung, president of the Wisconsin Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. “It would mean, quite frankly, that we would all close.”