October 1, 2014

University of Wisconsin System enrollment holding steady

Figures released by the University of Wisconsin System show fall enrollment numbers holding steady compared to last year.

The preliminary numbers reflect an overall enrollment decline of 0.4 percent for the UW System from last year, for an overall headcount of about 179,000 students. Final figures are not expected until next year. Freshman enrollments system wide dropped about 2.2-percent.

The largest decline in the system was on the UW-Green Bay campus, which saw enrollment drop by 7.5 percent. The UW-Stevens Point also saw a large decline, at 3.5 percent. The biggest gain was a 1.1 percent increase at the UW-Whitewater. System officials noted that some of the early figures do not reflect factors such as late-enrollment, which could cause an increase as the semester moves along.

In a statement, UW System President Ray Cross said that “UW enrollment continues to remain strong despite the declining numbers of high school graduates and other economic factors impacting an individual’s decision to seek higher education. College enrollments often spike during economic downturns and then level off as the economy begins to rebound. This is a natural, expected trend.”

Latest Marquette poll shows Walker with growing lead over Burke

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Mary Burke, Scott Walker (Photo: WRN)

The latest Marquette University Law School Poll shows Governor Scott Walker with a slight lead over his Democratic challenger. For the first time since March, the governor led Democrat Mary Burke by more than the margin of error for the poll. Among likely voters, Walker had a 50-45 advantage over his challenger, a change of about two points from a similar poll released in mid-September.

Walker led Burke 46 to 45 percent among registered voters in the latest poll, although pollster Charles Franklin says likely voters are a better number to watch as the election draws closer. Franklin says there’s “an enormous difference between them and everyone else.” In particular, he notes that enthusiasm is much higher among likely voters, compared to not likely voters. Enthusiasm can be an indicator of how likely someone is to cast a vote on Election Day.

The poll was conducted between September 25th and 28th, about a week after stories broke about Wisconsin being 33rd in the nation for job creation and that portions of Mary Burke’s jobs plan had been copied from candidates in other states. While about half of the respondents had heard about each of those issue, Franklin says most did not believe they would change their vote. About 73 percent of respondent said the copying claims made no difference, while 65 percent said the same about Wisconsin’s job ranking.

Meanwhile, in the race for attorney general, Republican candidate Brad Schimel led Democrat Susan Happ 41-39 among likely voters, 19 percent saying they are undecided. Among registered voters, Schimel and Happ were tied 37-37, with 22 percent still unsure who they would vote for.

The margin of error for the poll among likely voters was 4.1 percent.

Budget panel to consider funding for Wisconsin voter ID awareness efforts

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee (File photo: WRN)

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (File photo: WRN)

Lawmakers will consider a request next week for funding to promote the state’s voter ID requirement.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday on a request from the Government Accountability Board for just under $461,000. The agency wants to use the already-appropriated money to run a public awareness campaign on the state’s voter ID requirement, which will be in effect for the November 4th elections. A federal appeals court said last month that Wisconsin could enforce the law, which had been on hold for over two years because of court injunctions.

A joint statement from the Republican co-chairs of the committee says they look forward to the agency’s presentation, and that they are encouraged the request did not include adding state employees to help with implementation of the voter ID law.

The GAB plans to use many of the same materials that were prepared in the initial roll-out of the voter ID law in early 2012, which were pulled after the first of several court injunctions were issued blocking further enforcement of the requirement. The agency says it has updated materials to reflect changes ordered in a state Supreme Court decision on the law earlier this year.

Husband arrested in Green Lake County double murder

Nicholas Tuinstra

Nicholas Tuinstra

Berlin police say they have arrested the estranged husband of one of the victims in a double homicide over the weekend.

Police say 33-year-old Nicholas Tuinstra was arrested Tuesday night on two counts of first degree intentional homicide, for the shooting deaths of his wife Melissa Tuinstra and Justin Daniels. The two were found shot to death Saturday night in Berlin.

Online court records show Tuinstra had recently filed for divorce, and police say his wife and Daniels were dating. The murder weapon has not been found and Berlin Police Chief Dennis Plantz said they are asking for help from the public to locate the undisclosed type of handgun, which may have been disposed of in Green Lake or Marquette counties. Plantz asked any hunters spending time in the woods to looking for the weapon, and for anyone who comes across a handgun to leave it alone and contact police right away.

AUDIO: Berlin Police Chief Dennis Plantz (:38)

The shootings triggered an Amber Alert for Tuinstra’s 8-year-old daughter early Sunday morning. She was found safely with family in a neighboring county a short time later. Police say the girl was not present when the murders occurred.

An initial court appearance for Tuinstra has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon, with formal charges expected to be filed in the next day. He’s currently being held at the Green Lake County jail.

State elections agency asks for funding to promote voter ID requirement

(File photo: WRN)

(File photo: WRN)

State election officials are asking the Legislature for funding, to help inform the public about the reinstatement of Wisconsin’s Voter ID requirement.

The Government Accountability Board is asking lawmakers to release $460,800 in already-appropriated state funds. The money was earmarked for five new employees to help implement voter ID, but with the election just five weeks away, GAB spokesman Reid Magney says it makes more sense to use the funds for TV, radio, and online campaigns about the requirement that voters show a government-issued photo ID at the polls.

A federal appeals court lifted an injunction blocking the voter ID requirement in early September, more than two years after a judge issued the first of multiple orders blocking the law from being enforced.

Magney says the GAB will rely mainly on the same ad campaign that was used before the law was put on hold. He says two ads have already been updated to include information about a new system that’s in place to help verify the identity of voters who lack a birth certificate and need an ID for voting.