The Center for Media and Democracy is reposting Beau Hodai's investigation of so-called "scholarships" funded by corporations to bring state politicians to gatherings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as part of CMD's effort to report on and gather reporting about this organization through our ALECexposed.org work. This story was originally published by DBA Press. You can also download this report in PDF format and you can view documents relating to ALEC scholarship fund activity here.
By Katya Szabados
(From CMD: This report was originally printed as the cover story in the March 2, 2004 edition of the Madison-based newspaper "The Wisconsinite," titled "Dr. No and the Spectre of ALEC." While written more than seven years ago, the story it tells about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its role in Wisconsin government is illuminating and remains relevant today.
Guest post by Ken Taylor and Jon Peacock of Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
Medicaid provisions in Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee (JFC) budget are raising constitutional issues and open meetings concerns.
The Joint Finance Committee version of the budget bill incorporates provisions from the budget repair bill (Act 10) that shift the power over Medicaid and BadgerCare policymaking from the legislature to the Department of Health Services (DHS). However, it compounds the problems created by the concentration of so much lawmaking power in the executive branch because it removes requirements that the DHS policy changes –- which would be allowed to supersede 24 parts of the statutes –- have to be made by rule. The rulemaking process would have included public hearings and an opportunity for citizen participation in the process.
Guest post by Jon Peacock of Wisconsin Children and Families to PR Watch
As the Joint Finance Committee wrapped up its work on the biennial budget bill late last Friday night, June 3, one of the final motions that was offered was a brand new proposal for a large corporate tax break. At about 11:00 pm Friday, the Committee voted 12-4, along party lines, for that motion to create a new tax credit for corporations that produce goods in the state –- gradually reducing their state income tax by as much as 95 percent, once the $129 million per year tax break is fully phased in.
Kathleen Gallagher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote a good article on the subject earlier this week. As she reported, James Buchen, vice president of government relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, called the amendment "the icing on the cake for us be able to go out and sell Wisconsin as manufacturing heaven."
The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy -- where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision -- investing in education yields great bang for the buck.