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Walker Reaches for Trust Funds

ConstitutionMadison Wisconsin -- Wisconsin has witnessed Scott Walker annihilate workers right to negotiate, gut public schools by 800 million dollars, dissolve the commerce department and install a private corporation, engage in cronyism, eradicate Planned Parenthood, cut benefits for the young, elderly and those most in need and the list goes on. But what else could he possibly take from you and sell off to greedy corporations?

The answer: Your land and $835 million dollars of K-12 funds.

Before I get to the bottom line, let’s see how Walker intends on pulling off this feat in the name of Wisconsin being broke. Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR26) seeks to dissolve the office of Secretary of State and the Office of Treasurer for the state of Wisconsin. Now it is no secret that the current treasurer campaigned on the premise that the job is useless and a waste of tax payer money, yet not so useless since they still need to find someone to fulfill his duties. Although I’m sure Walker appreciates this opportunity, the current Secretary Of State and environmentalist Doug Lafollette disagrees.

You see, both office holders sit on The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. This board is Wisconsin’s oldest state agency,and is comprised of Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, State Treasurer Kurt Schuller, and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. This board is charged with carrying on the pioneering commitment of Wisconsin’s early leaders to a constitutionally protected form of public education financing that originated with millions of acres of land granted by the federal government.

Nearly all of the Trust Lands were sold over 100 years ago. The proceeds were used to establish the Trust Funds, which continue to grow with revenue from unclaimed property, clear proceeds of civil and criminal fees, fines and forfeitures, and modest revenue from the remaining managed forest lands. Wisconsin’s trust lands and funds are managed by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL). Created when Wisconsin gained statehood in 1848, BCPL currently manages four trust funds that total approximately $835 million in financial assets and slightly less than 78,000 acres of land.

From BCPL's Website

"The largest of these is the Common School Fund, which was established by the Wisconsin Constitution in 1848 with the granting by the federal government of approximately 1.5 million acres of land for educational purposes. The vast majority of these lands have been sold to create the principal for a permanent school fund, with earnings to be exclusively used to support and maintain common schools (now known as K-12 public schools) and “the purchase of suitable libraries and apparatus therefor” [Section 2, Article X of the Wisconsin Constitution]. The founding fathers of Wisconsin had the prescience to provide for growth of the Common School Fund through the addition of “clear proceeds” of all fines, fees and forfeitures that accrue to the state, including unclaimed property. The remaining 5,500 acres within the Common School Fund is managed forsustainable timber production and public recreation, with timber sale revenues added to fund principal." Now this fund and land is protected by Wisconsin’s Constitution and for the time being, safe from the cookie jar thief Scott Walker.

I said, for the time being because if he is successful in dissolving the office of Secretary of State and Treasurer, the new board members Walker proposes will be the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It’s no mystery on how this majority would rule in terms of monetary policy of these trust funds.

Now lets look at the Office Holders:

Currently, the constitution assigns four duties to the secretary of state; all other duties are prescribed by law:

1) Serve as governor when there is a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor and the governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office, or serve as acting governor when there is a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor and the governor is absent from the state, impeached, or incapable of performing the duties of office. Walker will have his minion Attorney Van Hollen take over this position. Despite Walkers need for change - this will STILL be a Constitutionally protected office, so no need for this change other than to "serve the pleasure of Walker".

2) Keep a fair record of the official acts of the legislature and executive department of the state.. Walker will have this simply removed, no need for a records of the wrongs enacted on the citizens, besides when Walker's agenda is fulfilled there will be no need for legislature since all the tax funds will be going to his private corporations.

3)Serve as a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. To be replaced by the Lieutenant Governor

4) Keep the great seal of Wisconsin. Walker wants it changed to "All official acts of the governor, his approbation of the laws excepted except the governor’s approval of bills that have passed the legislature, shall be thereby authenticated with the great seal.” No bi-partisanship necessary in our government anymore if Walker has his way.

And the State Treasurer:

Currently, the only duty assigned to the state treasurer by the constitution (not the only duties of the Treasurer just the only duties protected by the Constitution) is to serve as a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands; all other duties are prescribed by law. The proposal removes the state treasurer as a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands and hands that over to the Superintendent of Schools.

Furthermore – this legislation must change the constitution further to expedite Walkers intentions and allow for alternate plans just in case the people wake up and realize what he is doing. If this were only about saving the people money and streamlining government, I suspect the Land Trust grab would not be so clear in all of this disgusting legislation.

What about saving the state money? After all, “We’re broke!”

Now let’s look at SB6/JR1- Act 7

"This bill creates an authority, which is a public body corporate and politic, to be known as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The WEDC is governed by a board that consists of the governor, who shall serve as chairperson of the board, and 11 members nominated by the governor, and with the advice and consent of the senate appointed, to serve at the pleasure of the governor. The secretary of administration and the secretary of revenue also serve on the board as nonvoting members. The WEDC has a chief executive officer who is nominated by the governor, and with the advice and consent of the senate appointed, to serve at the pleasure of the governor. The board may delegate to the chief executive officer any powers and duties the board considers proper."

Reading further..

“The board is given all the powers necessary or convenient to carry out its duties, as well as specific powers to conduct its corporate business.” and “The WEDC employees are not state employees, although the WEDC may elect to become a participating employer under the Wisconsin Retirement System.”

If you read nothing else – read this:

In addition to creating the WEDC, the bill authorizes the secretary of administration, before July 1, 2011, to abolish any full-time equivalent position or portion thereof from revenues appropriated to Commerce and authorizes the secretary to transfer funds from Commerce appropriations to WEDC appropriations.”

By the time Walker and his lockstep republicans are done with the state of Wisconsin, it will no longer be recognizable in the historical sense as the name might as well change to Wisconsin Inc. The wealthiest in the state pay little to no taxes and many of them receive your tax payer dollars in the form of refunds. Now Walker and his cronies are attempting to take control of an institution that no other governor in history has ever attempted or even thought about taking over.

Wisconsin doesn’t need less government, it needs less corrupt government. Contrary to what Walker and the GOP think, corporations are not people and it is time to take our government back from them and give it back to the people. Contact your representative and let them know you will not stand for corporate take-overs and the misuse of your tax dollars, that is, unless the next time you want to go hunting, camping or fishing, (or send your child to public schools) you don’t mind asking Koch Industries or Cline mines first. You can also sign this petition here.

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