Dropped from budget, separate bills died
Updated: Thursday, May 31st, 2012 | By Tom Kertscher
Campaigning in the 2010 election for Wisconsin governor, Republican Scott Walker released a five-page plan to improve schools that included a series of pledges.
One was to "remove arbitrary barriers like residency requirements that keep qualified teachers out of struggling districts."
In March 2011, Walker released his 2011-2013 state budget proposal. It included a provision that would have prohibited school boards from adopting any rule that makes residency in the school district a condition of employment.
Walker argued the move would encourage more high-quality teachers to work for Milwaukee Public Schools.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett -- Walker's Democratic opponent in 2010 and again in the June 2012 gubernatorial recall election -- said any change in the requirement should be done through collective bargaining between the school district and the teachers union, because that is what produced the requirement.
City officials have long argued that doing away with the residency requirement would hurt Milwaukee's property tax base, because many teachers would move to the suburbs.
In April 2011, a Walker ally, state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, which she co-chaired, would not consider the residency measure as part of the budget.
Instead, a bill introduced by Darling and a companion measure in the Assembly, both introduced in March 2011, were considered. Each would have prohibited Milwaukee Public Schools from imposing a residency requirement on teachers beginning in July 2013, when the current MPS teachers contract ends.
Some supporters said high-quality teachers won't work for MPS because of the requirement.
MPS opposed the effort, saying teacher residency is a negotiated item between the district and the teachers union, and that if the district needs to seek concessions from the union in the face of massive state funding reductions, it needs to have some leverage to open that conversation.
Both bills were discussed in hearings, but died without being taken up for a vote.
If Walker succeeds in the recall election, he'll have 2-1/2 years remaining in his term and could make another run at changing residency requirements for teachers.
But for now, we rate this promise Stalled.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Keep MPS residency rule, Wisconsin Senate panel
urged," March 23, 2011
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee officials say lifting residency requirements will
hurt city," March 3, 2011
WisPolitics.com, Sen. Alberta Darling news release about 2011-2013 budget, April 20, 2011
Wisconsin Legislature, Senate Bill 34 history
Email interview, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction spokesman John Johnson, May 30, 2012
Email interview, Gov. Scott Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie, May 31, 2012
We want to hear your suggestions and comments. Email the Wisconsin Truth-O-Meter with feedback and with claims you'd like to see checked. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.