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Doyle Vows to Defend State's Tradition of Great Schools

Governor Doyle thanks WEAC-Retired members "for what you have given us."

Governor Doyle told WEAC-Retired members Friday (May 16, 2003) that they have played a key role in building and maintaining Wisconsin's tradition of great public schools, and he will fight to make sure that tradition is maintained for future generations of educators and children.

Speaking at the WEAC-Retired annual membership meeting in Wisconsin Dells, Doyle said he regretted that WEAC-R members left the profession before he succeeded in repealing the Qualified Economic Offer law, and said he appreciated their contributions.

"I want to thank you for what you have given us," he said.

Governor Doyle chats with WEAC-Retired President Jerry Martin (left) and WEAC President Stan Johnson.

He said it is essential to "get rid of" the QEO law, not only because Wisconsin's teachers deserve better pay but "it is important that the schools of this state continue to have great teachers." That, he added, is important to the future of the state.

The issue is not money, it is respect for educators and "whether the brightest young people in this state are going to choose teaching as a profession."

Doyle said he made education a priority in his state budget proposal and that, despite the huge state budget deficit he was able to find an extra $100 million for education. He said he regretted he was not able to maintain the state's commitment to two-thirds funding of K-12 education but he did all he could to prevent causing harm to schools.

Doyle criticized the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee for cutting $15 million from the Wisconsin Technical College System. While he is trying to "keep an eye on tomorrow and build Wisconsin's future," that action is counterproductive. "Talk about not thinking about tomorrow ... " he said.

He said he transferred $500 million from the transportation fund to revenue sharing and education, with an eye on the future. That controversial provision, he said, keeps transportation funding at the same level as the last budget, still leaving $3 billion available for road building.

"Are we going to have even more concrete, or are we going to help kids?" he asked.

Doyle said this state has a long tradition of investing in public education, even during hard times, including the Great Depression. That must continue, he said.

"I know, above all else, Wisconsin values education," he said. "You all have been part of something that has been great for Wisconsin."

WEAC President Stan Johnson applauded Doyle for including repeal of the QEO in his budget plan. Although the Joint Finance Committee has removed it, Johnson said, "The battle is not over."

He appealed to WEAC-Retired members to continue to contact their legislators to fight for QEO repeal and to call the active members in their communities to urge them to keep the pressure on.

"We need to get members more involved," he said.

WEAC members played an important role in helping to elect Governor Doyle and now need to focus on the Legislature.

"We need now to work harder than ever before to elect pro-public education legislators," he said.

Johnson also said members need to contact their congressional representatives to urge measures to address the national health care cost crisis. He said WEAC members have given up a lot over the years to keep good health care benefits, and now some people are taking aim at those benefits.

Instead of bringing educators' health benefits down, we should work to raise everybody's health care up, he said.

He cited the example of Henry Ford, who increased his employees' pay so they could afford to buy his cars. Fair pay and good benefits are good for the economy, he added.

Instead of providing massive tax cuts to the wealthy, he said, we should make sure everyone receives decent pay so they can afford "to purchase products to get us out of this recession."

Posted May 16, 2003


Education News