Please participate in democracy and vote in Tuesday’s nonpartisan elections.
Polls are open in Wisconsin from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Here are a couple of issues that we suggest deserve special attention:
La Crosse County advisory referendum
La Crosse County officials have placed an advisory referendum on Tuesday’s ballot, asking voters whether they favor adding a half-cent sales tax to help fund road work.
The measure has received a fair amount of criticism, and the advisory vote is just the first of four steps — from here to Madison and back — needed to enact a Premier Resort Tax in La Crosse County.
So, we suggest you treat the question at face value and provide the advice that county leadership is seeking — yes or no.
Regardless of the outcome, we feel strongly that the county deserves credit for seeking an innovative solution to $87 million in unmet road needs at a time when state support has failed to meet the need.
And, for those who want to know why the county doesn’t devote more of its budget to road work, why aren’t you asking the state the same question – especially after U.S. News and World Report recently rated Wisconsin’s road quality 49th in the nation.
The county currently borrows $2.7 million per year for road work, but county officials have said they would prefer eliminating the need for borrowing and instead raise more revenue from road users — including folks who don’t reside here.
The Premier Resort Area Tax would raise an estimated $6.6 million annually — with $5 million going to county road work and the rest going to municipalities.
Is PRAT the perfect solution? No. But, the state’s continued unwillingness to raise revenue for road work has dropped local entities into an ever-growing pothole.
During a recent transportation roundtable in Onalaska, an official from City Brewery said loading a truck now takes twice as long — and requires twice as many people — because of deteriorating road quality.
It’s hard to understand why poor roads are good for business in Wisconsin.
A West Salem School District official said poor road quality has led to more bus repairs — cracked windshields, sideview mirrors that are simply shaken off — and taken more money away from the classroom.
It’s hard to understand why poor roads are good for education in Wisconsin, either.
At a time when neighboring states like Iowa are raising the gas tax to fix roads, Wisconsin is getting left in the dust.
State superintendent of public instruction
We’ve long been convinced that Tony Evers, the state superintendent of schools and former Tomah educator, is committed to improving education for Wisconsin’s children.
That’s why he continues to earn our endorsement.
Evers has worked to improve K-12 schools and graduation rates. He has increased partnerships with higher education to provide high school students the opportunity to earn college credit.
He has raised standards, has worked effectively with both sides of the political aisle, and has long been an advocate for a more equitable funding formula for school districts and higher standards for students.
His opponent, Lowell Holtz, has plenty of experience as an educator in Wisconsin. But some revelations during the campaign have been troubling.
Evers has earned our trust.
Holmen School District referendums
Holmen is a growing school district in a growing community, which means it faces some unusual problems compared with other districts in western Wisconsin.
During the district’s population and enrollment growth, school officials have had to seek additional funding to keep up with that growth — and they’ve been very transparent with voters.
Once again, the district is coming to voters as previous tax increases are about to expire, meaning that approval of three key measures Tuesday shouldn’t raise the tax rate.
These initiatives are a wise investment for Holmen School District residents.
The district wants voter approval to exceed the state-imposed revenue limit to create safer entrances and enhanced video monitoring. The amount is $1.13 million for 2017-18 and $1.71 million the next school year. That money also will help the village develop new roads near the school.
The second referendum question seeks $900,000 for 145 additional parking spots — again, a function of growing enrollment.
That growth is also fueling the third question, which seeks $300,000 to add 800 seats to the outdoor stadium and kick-start a fund drive for artificial turf. The added turf would mean more sports teams can use the stadium, instead of having to develop more lighting, seating, concessions and restrooms for additional sports fields.
Holmen’s population will continue to grow, and the district must continue making investments to keep up with that growth.