End of Session Letter
With the legislative session winding down, I think all of us can feel very proud about what was accomplished in the state of Wisconsin. The results were historic. Although the task was daunting, much progress was made to roll back the size of government. Taxation, spending, borrowing and regulations were out of control and immediate long term changes were needed to reverse those trends. Unchecked, these trends were increasingly robbing future generations of the ability to succeed and prosper in Wisconsin.
As a freshman legislator, one observation that became very apparent to me was the contrasting backgrounds of the Republicans and Democrats. Generally, the Democrat’s in the Assembly can be characterized by terms such as public sector, bureaucrat, educational elitist and special interest. The Republicans in the Assembly can be characterized by terms such as private sector, business background, middle class, individual rights and freedoms. The political polarization is unavoidable. It is no surprise when the philosophy of the current Democrats has strayed so dramatically from the ideals and beliefs held by our founding fathers.
There are many clichés that attempt to describe the legislative process. “A contact sport” is a characterization that is often true. But the process, framed by our constitution and the rights of states, is the best system known to man. And in this session the Assembly Republicans legislated effectively. The Republicans were especially effective because they were galvanized by a conservative political philosophy. Despite the stalling, hyperbole, spin, media manipulation and outright untruths from the Democrats, conservative ideals advanced. The Assembly Republicans stood strong and stood together.
Yes, there has been progress, but there is still more to be done. We continue to need bold Republican leaders that want action, not talk. There are no quick, easy fixes. Our efforts must continue to focus on growing our economy, mainly by getting government out of the way. Capitalism, the greatest economic system in the world, must be allowed to function. Only with economic prosperity will Wisconsin residents be able to fully enjoy the great opportunity in all facets of life in our beloved state.
It was a historic legislative session. Let’s all work together to ensure that the next legislative session can continue to advance conservative ideals in Wisconsin.
Recently, as a member of my local school board, I participated in a public hearing conducted to appoint three new members from a slate of four candidates to the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) District Board. Over the years, this flawed process has resulted in a board dominated by special interest representation from the city of Milwaukee.
The meeting opened with the reading of a letter from one of the candidates announcing his withdrawal from consideration. The candidate indicated that his desire to withdraw was due to “outside forces looking to change MATC’s governing structure”. The candidate reflected upon being “impressed by how well the college appears to be serving our communities” and that he had no desire to be associated with the newly proposed board selection process.
The current selection system is guided by a confusing matrix of “representation requirements”. These requirements focus on gender, minority status, geographic area, and employer/employee status. Ironically, as stated immediately after the meeting by the MATC legal counsel in attendance, the candidate who withdrew “was probably not eligible” for the MATC District Board due to the requirements that are in place at this time. Thus, it would appear the rationale for the candidate’s withdrawal letter was either disingenuous or uninformed with regard to his actual viability as a candidate. In any case, this is not the first time that after applying the “representation requirements” there was no viable outside candidate to challenge the returning incumbent.
That left three candidates for three openings. As part of the “representation requirements,” one of the openings had to be filled by a school district administrator. That opening was filled de facto by the one and only school district administrator candidate.
Now, two incumbent candidates for two openings remained. The two incumbents were asked questions that pertained to emerging trends in education. One question asked if MATC should consider merit pay, while the other question inquired if tenure was beneficial to education. Unfortunately, the answers given by both incumbents showed little or no inclination to consider those two concepts.
Lastly, each candidate was asked if given the opportunity to reopen the union contract and derive cost savings through greater employee participation in pension and healthcare benefits, similar to the recent MPS legislation, would they do so? Again, neither of the incumbents was interested in exploring this option.
Should we be surprised by these attitudes? Most likely not. One of the incumbent’s prior careers was the past president of a powerful public workers union in the City of Milwaukee; therefore, he fulfilled the “employee” requirement in the matrix. The other incumbent is employed by the City of Milwaukee Housing Authority. Because the incumbent has one part time employee reporting to her, she fulfilled the “employer” requirement in the matrix. Is this really the best we can do to fill these important positions?
The problems with this system do not stop here. For all practical purposes, the City of Milwaukee is guaranteed a majority of members on the nine member board—the geographic requirements mandate four members from the City of Milwaukee and the other requirements virtually assure a minimum of five members from the City of Milwaukee.
I believe MATC needs to focus on accountability and results in its educational mission. As seen over the years, that has not been its track record. Now more than ever MATC needs to provide effective services to its students and the community. Unfortunately, since it is apparent reforms will not occur from within, it takes involvement by the State Legislature to begin the process of transforming MATC to an institution that works for all stakeholders.
4/24/12 Rep. Stroebel: Budget Reforms Save Millions In School Districts (Press Release)
Madison—It was recently announced that the fiscal reforms implemented in the past year have saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $1 billion.
For the school districts of the 60th Assembly district alone, which currently includes Cedarburg, Grafton, and Port Washington-Saukville, savings to date have topped $4 million. A detailed analysis of these savings can be seen at www.reforms.wi.gov
“The concerns of taxpayers are being heard,” Rep. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) said. “The reforms gave control and flexibility to local governments and school districts so they could decide how best to deliver essential services. They respect all stakeholders, and the benefits are clear.”
“Furthermore, it is important to note that in many instances, some savings due to the reforms have yet to be included in these figures. For instance, the Cedarburg school district saved $686,000 over the prior year’s district-wide health insurance premiums, and these savings are not reflected in the figures. With changes to collective bargaining, the district was finally able to competitively bid the coverage to insurers other than WEA Trust, the state teacher union health insurance company. Savings like these have not been uncommon throughout Wisconsin.”
With the delivery of property tax bills upon us, it is a good opportunity to discuss tax levies and to clarify what the residents of the 60th Assembly District might expect on their statements this year.
The 2011-13 state budget included provisions to slow property tax growth. This budget freezes municipal and county property taxes for the next two years. Because your property tax bill contains tax levies from additional taxing bodies, including schools, technical colleges, and other local taxing units, your final property tax bill will not necessarily be frozen. This means that the fiscal responsibility of all taxing entities in your property tax bill can affect the final tax figure.
Additionally, a relative change in property values can cause a tax shift among individual properties, creating another variable in the potential rise or fall of your bill. The bottom line is that according to a recent report from the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), property tax bills across the state fell by one percent this year. This is the first decline in years, and many individual homeowners could see an even larger reduction in their tax bill.
More specifically in regards to schools, for the first time in years Wisconsin’s 2011-12 K-12 tax levy is going down. In total, the K-12 tax levy decreased by $47 million. To add some perspective to those numbers, think about this: The tax levy has increased by an average of $162 million per year over the last ten years. Over the last five years under the Doyle administration, the levy increased by an average of $182 million per year. Looking at the individual school districts, 269 have a property tax levy lower or the same as last year.
While school district tax levies are decreasing, the quality of education is not. Statewide, new teacher hires outnumber layoffs and non-renewals. Districts that chose to utilize the educational reforms were able to hire more teachers and avoid layoffs at a greater rate than districts that did not. The three districts with the most teacher layoffs—Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Janesville—did not adopt the changes the legislature made via the budget repair bill (Act 10). Those three districts account for 68 percent of teacher layoffs statewide but only 12.8 percent of Wisconsin students.
Recent studies show school districts are already set to save about $155 million as a result of Act 10 reforms. Most of these savings are coming from requiring teachers and educational staff to pay 12.6 percent of their health insurance premium and 5.8 percent of their salary toward their pensions. Studies also show if all school districts adopted the flexibility measures contained in Act 10, it would save taxpayers more than $450 million without reducing class sizes, educational programming, or eliminating teacher jobs.
Furthermore, these figures do not take into account the millions of dollars saved by districts competitively bidding health insurance. Prior to Act 10 and the repeal of collective bargaining, many districts had no ability to seek coverage from other than the state teacher's union's health insurance company. The savings have been HUGE!
Taxes were cut, debts were paid, and the fiscal integrity of the budget was restored without gimmicks--all while instituting meaningful restraints on property tax bills. The quality of our children's education in Wisconsin is being maintained at a more affordable cost for taxpayers. The reforms are working, and the results of prudent and responsible government are evident.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.
9/15/11 Rep. Stroebel: Introduces Legislation Aimed At “Double Dipping” (Press Release)
Madison -- State Representative Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) introduced legislation to eliminate “double dipping.”
“The intent of the bill is very specific: to end the practice of ‘double dipping’ by Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) annuitants. People who double dip compromise the integrity of the system and hurt Wisconsin taxpayers. The pensions of retirees who choose to ‘un-retire’ on a half-time or more basis with any WRS participating employer will be abated until they choose to ‘retire’ again,” Stroebel said.
This bill enhances the solvency of the WRS and allows other residents a better chance to begin a new career in Wisconsin public service.
A relatively young retirement age causes many to re-enter the job market after retiring. Some re-enter within 30 days of retirement—with some to the very same position they just retired from—while still collecting a retirement pension.
“This legislation causes public employees to think carefully about the decision to retire. If they choose to un-retire for a half-time or more position, they must understand that they can’t collect both a salary and a pension at the same time from Wisconsin taxpayers.”
This past April, I mailed a legislative survey to each household in the district, and I was overwhelmed with the responses I got. It was nice to see so many households participate and offer feedback on what they liked this past session and what they would like to see happen in the next legislative session. Additionally, with redistricting I was able to reach out and get to know constituents who were not previously part of the 60th Assembly District.
For those of you who may have missed the survey, I offered eleven questions to gauge where you stood on particular issues. Examples include: Should the governance of MATC be studied and possibly reformed?; Do you support recall reform to ensure it’s used only in situations of criminal activity and ethical violations (as opposed to policy disagreements)?; and Do you prefer the use of traffic roundabouts in lieu of conventional intersections? Below, I have provided a few of the survey results, with a full report available on my website.
1. Should Wisconsin follow the lead of other states and pass “Right to Work” legislation?
Undecided/No opinion: 6%
2. Do you support government spending reductions over tax increases to avoid deficits or increased debt:
Undecided/No opinion: 2%
3. Should tolls be considered to generate funds for roads in our state? Yes: 34%
Undecided/No opinion: 4%
4.Do you prefer the use of traffic roundabouts in lieu of conventional intersections?
Undecided/No opinion: 4%
5. Should Wisconsin consider the expansion of nuclear power as a viable energy option?
Undecided/No opinion: 3%
As we look forward, I want to continue to put the 60th Assembly District and the state of Wisconsin first. Growing the economy and putting Wisconsin residents back to work is of the utmost importance. Additionally, I would like to see reform in the way elections are handled in the state because, as you know, the constant cycle of elections the state has experienced has been exhausting and wasteful. As always, I continue to welcome your feedback and opinions.
When Scott Walker and the Republicans took control of state government this January, they were tasked with cleaning up a huge mess left by the previous Democratic administration. Our state was facing a budget deficit over $3 billion. Our citizens, businesses, and jobs were leaving the state in droves as they fled a government that too often put itself in the way of economic prosperity.
On July 1st, Wisconsin sent a message to its people and the rest of the nation: Wisconsin is open for business. Our new state budget, along with other measures meant to encourage economic growth and job creation, have set Wisconsin on the right path. When facing such a massive deficit, government often must choose between tax increases that squeeze the middle class or drastic cuts to services. This makes it all the more amazing that our new budget transforms our $3 billion deficit into a $306 million surplus (as projected by the non‐partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau) without any tax increases or significant cuts in government services. Our state government can finally live within its means, as its citizens must do every day.
Wisconsin Republicans realize that the private sector has struggled in the face of economic problems and rising taxes. We seek to turn that around with the budget by holding back taxes and investing in Wisconsin to encourage growth. The budget does not increase taxes or fees, does not raid funds, and for the first time in state history, freezes real estate property tax rates. Furthermore, the budget provides tax incentives for those who invest capital gains in Wisconsin and those who create manufacturing jobs for the people of Wisconsin. It streamlines licensing and regulation, eliminating much of the stifling bureaucracy that inhibits growth and job creation. It also promotes tourism and invests in transportation. We are already seeing the results of our new pro‐growth approach to governance. In a recent survey ranking state business environments, Wisconsin made the biggest jump in the history of the survey. We recognize that government does not create jobs. This is the role of the private sector. We must support private sector growth to ensure job creation and economic prosperity.
Despite our ability to hold the line on taxes, the budget is able to maintain the high level of services it offers the citizens of Wisconsin. We are able to do this in part because of the modest changes made to the benefit packages of public employees, benefits still more generous than most in the private sector. By asking our public employees to contribute to their pension and health care plans, we are able to better control costs at both the state and local level, allowing communities to implement these tools as they see fit. These and other changes prevent layoffs of public employees and ensure that Wisconsinites continue to enjoy a high level of services in our state now and for years to come. This reform makes government more efficient and rewards our most exceptional public employees for their hard work.
¬¬¬ Regardless of our tremendous progress, we know that the budget is only the first step towards a better future in Wisconsin. We will continue to invest in our state, encouraging businesses to grow and creating new jobs in Wisconsin, and to make our state the envy of the nation.
2/25/11 Stroebel Announces Candidacy (Press Release)
Cedarburg native Duey Stroebel has announced his Republican candidacy for the 60th State Assembly District being vacated by Mark Gottlieb, who was recently appointed Transportation Secretary in the Scott Walker Administration. The primary for the special election to replace Gottlieb will take place on April 5th.
Stroebel was born, raised and owns a business in the 60th District and has deep roots in the area. “I would be proud to represent the people of the District in Madison," he said. "It is clear the citizens of Wisconsin endorsed conservative change last November. I fully support the Walker Administration's goals of job creation, smaller government and reduced spending."
Stroebel has been a member of the Cedarburg School Board since 2007 and has strived to provide improved educational opportunities while respecting the finite resources of the local taxpayer. During Stroebel’s tenure on the board, the Cedarburg School District has been one of the only in the state to consistently under-levy, resulting in lower taxes to local residents.
After graduating from Cedarburg High School, Stroebel obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was employed at Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation in Milwaukee. He then obtained a Master of Science in Real Estate Investment Analysis and started Terrace Realty in Cedarburg in 1987. The company is involved in residential and commercial real estate development and management. Stroebel’s education combined with his day to day experience as a business owner and employer have prepared him to make the right decisions in government.
Stroebel has been active in numerous business, civic and philanthropic activities including past president of the Greater Cedarburg Foundation, former director of Ozaukee Bank, (now Harris) and former member of the Town of Cedarburg Planning Commission. Stroebel is also currently an active member of the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce, the Ozaukee Realtors Association, the City of Cedarburg Downtown Ad Hoc Committee, the President’s Council at Concordia University and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
Stroebel and his wife, Laura, have 8 children ranging in age from 5 to 20 years old. His interests and activities include coaching youth sports, running, hunting, 4-H leadership and involvement at First Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Cedarburg.
“We need strong conservative leadership in Madison, and I look forward to the task,” Stroebel said, adding he plans to attack the job with intensity, thoughtfulness and commitment. "My goal is not to be a career politician – I will always remain a husband, father and businessman. But I want to ensure the conservative agenda is implemented during this pivotal point in time – we need action, not talk. I want my children, and all young people, to believe Wisconsin is a place they can succeed and raise a family”.
Stroebel’s campaign web site is stroebelforassembly.com. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.