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Gov. Scott Walker discusses education funding in new budget Submitted: 09/22/2017

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MOSINEE - Wisconsin's new state budget includes $11.5 billion for education over the next two years.

On Friday, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) visited schools across the state to discuss some details of the education budget.


Dozens of students at Mosinee Middle School heard from the governor himself about how the new education budget will affect them. 

Governor Walker also toured Mosinee's fab lab and chrome shop to see firsthand where some of that funding will be spent.

Walker says the budget doubles the amount of spending for fab labs, and increases funding so that all students in the state can have a school-supplied electronic device. 

More than $35 million will go specifically towards broadband expansion, which Walker's office says will benefit rural and underserved schools.

Walker vetoed a portion of the education budget proposal that would have brought in more revenue to so called "low-spending districts." North Central Wisconsin contains many such districts.

"The concern with the language they put in is it would allow districts to go above and beyond even the historic increases we put in and allow to raise property taxes," said Walker. 
 
Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) was one of the authors behind the idea of raising revenue in low-spending districts. 

That effort was meant to improve the state's school-funding formula, and to make it more fair.

"We're all a little disappointed the governor went that direction. I certainly understand his point of view as well. I mean anytime you want to increase taxes it's always okay to take it to the tax payers," said Swearingen. 

Swearingen says for now districts would have to go through a referendum and get tax-payer approval to raise spending limits.

He believes the idea will come up again in the futureā€¦ but for now he thinks that the new budget's investment into education will still make a positive impact for Northwoods schools. Particularly the $636 million in state aid for education.

"That's money going into the classroom, not money going into the school funding formula. So this gets hit right into, for instance, the Rhinelander School District so that'll make a positive impact," said Swearingen.
Walker believes that this investment in education will pay not only for the students, but for Wisconsin's workforce as well.

"Biggest challenge I hear, particularly from small business owners here and across the state is that we need more employees, we need more people with the skill sets needed to fill the jobs we have open. The fundamental building block of that is K through 12 education," said Walker. 
 
The new budget will also affect some of the state's college students. Tuition rates for University of Wisconsin System in-state undergraduates will be frozen for the next two years.



Story By: Dakota Sherek

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander mom said her lifestyle completely changed when a new neighbor moved in. 

She used to love the close proximity and the ability to walk to almost anything in town.

She has two young kids and regularly checks the sex offender registry. 

The Rhinelander mom wishes to stay anonymous. We'll refer to her as Linda. 

Linda found out a sex offender moved in a few doors down from her by flipping through a local newspaper, She saw a small box at the bottom page with a notification. 

"He kind of just snuck in," said Linda. 

William Huntington moved close to Linda's house in May. However, Linda says she knew nothing until she did research of her own in July. 

"When I saw what he was found guilty of I was in shock. I was in complete shock," said Linda. 

He was convicted in Dane County for repeatedly sexually assaulting his 8- year- old neighbor about twenty years ago. He's now required to wear a lifetime GPS monitoring system. 

Dana Wszalek works with the Department of Corrections in Rhinelander as a Regional Chief. Her office supervises people like Huntington in the community.

"What we do is not a cookie cutter type of approach to supervision; it's relative to what their risks are based on their case dynamics," said Wszalek. 

State law requires high risk sex offender to live at least 1,500 feet from churches, schools and playgrounds. Restrictions on other sex offenders are left to local offices. 

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office says there are no ordinances for sex offenders in Oneida County.

"They have different life experiences. They are a part of the community," said Wszalek. 

Wszalek understands the wariness community members might feel.

"As a parent it's important to be aware of who's in your neighborhood," said Wszalek. 

Linda said one of her 6- year- old child was planning on walking to school with friends this year, but instead they'll get driven.

"I feel like the neighborhood we moved into to be able to have these things has been taken away," said Linda.

Linda said she was shocked she didn't get a call or knock on her door from law enforcement.

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Rhinelander Area Scholarship Foundation member Harlan Larson and his wife went to Oaxaca, Mexico several years ago and met famous woodcarver Armando Jimenez there.  The couple learned Jimenez had traveled to Wisconsin in the past, but he hadn't ventured north of Baraboo.

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RHINELANDER - Hundreds of people will walk to help raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's care in Rhinelander on Saturday. 

The Walk to End Alzheimer's is held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide. Eighteen of those communities are in Wisconsin. It's the largest event held in support of Alzheimer's care. 

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RHINELANDER - People usually drop off canned goods and other non-perishable food items as donations. But on Friday, dozens of kids and adults picked potatoes in Rhinelander to help area food pantries. 

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Nicolet College hosted the Veterans Business Workshop.

The objective was to tell businesses why they should hire local veterans.

Guest speaker from Wisconsin's Veterans Chamber of Commerce Saul Newton says veterans can bring strong and diverse skill sets into the work force.

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Newswatch 12 went out to Lake Tomahawk for the video you see above.

Most of the damage there was minimal.
But people like Florian Bieschke from Minocqua didn't want to risk driving in the storm.

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Many bus drivers will also voluntarily furlough their pay until federal funds come in.

The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission, which operates the popular public transit program, made the moves at a meeting Friday morning.

"What we're adjusting is some things internally around accessing an adequate fund supply," said Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller.

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