August 23, 2014

Johnson: ISIS must be defeated (AUDIO)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

While he is not pushing to send American troops into Syria and Iraq to deal with the terrorist groups known as ISIS, or the Islamic State, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) argues the threat posed by the group must be taken seriously.

Johnson is calling on President Obama to develop a plan and set up a coalition of willing western and Arab states to deal with ISIS. “We have to defeat ISIS,” Johnson says. Otherwise, he believes that the group will “not be contained” to Syria and Iraq.

Pointing to the beheading of journalist James Foley earlier this week, Johnson says it shows that ISIS is “brutal, they are barbarians, they are evil.” He says that the group has long indicated that, once it establishes a base of operations in the Middle East, it will use that to carry out attacks against the west. “We ignore it at our own peril,” Johnson warns.

AUDIO: Sen. Ron Johnson (1:03)

Johnson says the air strikes the U.S. has carried out to slow the advance of ISIS have helped, but he believes President Obama was largely pushed to act after the group seized control of a key dam that was in danger of failing. “His hand was forced there, but his hand is also going to be forced when we start seeing what a threat these guys represent.”

Johnson’s comments came during a stop in Barron County on Wednesday.

Audio courtesy of Mike Duncan, WJMC

State loses out by not expanding BadgerCare

Robert Kraig

Robert Kraig

Are health insurance rates in Wisconsin higher than necessary? If they are, one groups argues it could be because of Governor Scott Walker’s decision not to accept a full expansion of federal funding for BadgerCare.

Robert Kraig is with Citizen Action of Wisconsin, which released a report showing Wisconsin insurance rates average $250 more per year because of Walker’s decision. “What this data found is that, not only turning down the Medicaid money had no impact on people on Medicaid, on BadgerCare, it impacted all people in terms of their insurance rates,” Kraig said. “For not taking the Medicaid money, it was over $250 a year for every person. And that comes out of the general economy and out of peoples family budgets.”

Walker continues to maintain that he’s protecting taxpayers – because the federal government can’t be counted on to keep Medicaid funded in the long term. “The reality is, anyone who’s counting on the federal government to come through with funding, here or anywhere else across the country is living in a alternative universe, because this is a federal government that’s already $17 trillion in the hole,” said Walker. “They’ve reneged on Medicaid and other promises in the past. I’ve every reason to believe based on the past record, the federal government will renege again, so I didn’t want the taxpayers of this state to be on the hook.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimate also doesn’t come up in the governor’s favor – the agency found the state could have saved more than $500 million over three and a-half years, and served some 87,000 more adults a month under BadgerCare Plus.

Canvass backs Grothman win in 6th Congressional District primary

Sen. Glenn Grothman

Sen. Glenn Grothman

Republican state Senator Glenn Grothman had his primary win for Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District confirmed Wednesday, with the canvass of last week’s primary ballots now complete.

The results posted by the state Government Accountability Board show the Campbellsport Republican winning the four-way primary for retiring U.S. Representative Tom Petri’s seat by 219 votes. State Senator Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) remained in second place. The gap between the candidates is about one-third of one percent; the smallest margin in a Wisconsin congressional race since 1970.

Leibham says he and his campaign staff will review the canvass results, then decide whether to seek a recount. He has three days to decide. For now, Grothman will prepare to face Democratic nominee Mark Harris in November.

Meanwhile, a recount begins tomorrow in the 87th Assembly District in northwest Wisconsin. Michael Bub asked for the recount, after losing by 17 votes to James Edming for the GOP nomination for an Assembly seat given up by Medford Republican Mary Williams.

State increases efforts to fight sexual abuse on campus

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Officials at the state Department of Justice are stepping up their efforts to help protect incoming college students from sexual assaults on campus. Crime Victim Services director Jill Karofsky says the problem is pervasive, even if it is not being reported. “We’d have to be completely blind to the notion of sexual assault to think that there’s any campuses in this state or this country where people are not being sexually assaulted.”

Officials estimate that one in five women and one in twelve men who enroll in secondary education this fall will be sexually assaulted before they graduate. Many of these assaults go unreported or only head to campus level review boards. Karofsky says people just feel afraid to report assault on campuses and that’s a problem. “Certainly if you’re a male victim on a college campus, that might be even more difficult to report. Women victims and male victims too are afraid that people won’t believe them, and those fears are borne out by what we read in the press.”

In order to help fight this problem, state officials are rolling out new training for students, for college staff, and for police across the state to help them find and help victims of sexual assault. “We now have an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Department of Justice whose whole job is to train officers on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking.” Karofsky says the state is also working to help ease the paperwork involved in forensic exams and sexual assault testing before charges are filed.

Officials are also looking at changing the way that education about sexual assault is handled, and moving the emphasis away from educating women about the dangers they face and towards men and how they should be treating women in the situations that lead to sexual assault.

Attorney General JB Van Hollen says his department will be working hard on the issue. “Effectively addressing sexual violence with students, faculty, and staff and maintaining our focus on the perpetrators of these crimes, while supporting victims, ensures that all students have the opportunity to learn and thrive in a safe and secure environment.”


UW Regents contemplate requesting $95 million in state budget


University of Wisconsin System

The UW Board of Regents could decide today whether to ask for another $95 million in the next two-year state budget.

University of Wisconsin System officials say they need more tax dollars to help pay for the school’s new Talent Development Initiative, to create new STEM-related jobs — science, technology, engineering, and math.

The UW also says it needs to boost the numbers of graduates while reducing the time to receive a degree. Officials also want to maintain the quality of academic instruction and research in the UW System.

Officials say the 26 campuses need to preserve academic quality, in the face of another tuition freeze. Governor Scott Walker had told state agencies last month not to expect any increase in tax funding in the next budget that he’d propose in February — if he gets re-elected this fall. 

The Regents meet Thursday at the Oshkosh campus. They’re scheduled to take up the budget in the afternoon.