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By Dave Umhoefer October 22, 2013

Removed for teachers and more

When we rated this promise Stalled in 2012, we noted that Gov. Scott Walker had time to take a second crack at keeping it before his term ends in 2014.

And Walker did just that.

In the 2013-'15 budget, he brought back his move to block school districts from making residency in a district a condition of employment.

The proposal went even further, applying broadly to municipal governments and their employees.

This time Republicans in the Legislature left it in the budget.

Walker signed the budget on June 30, 2013 over the objections of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other municipal officials but with the support of various labor unions.

The change included in the budget applies to municipalities and school districts, meaning teachers are now allowed to live where they want. For police and firefighters, the budget provision limited but did not end residency requirements.

The city of Milwaukee is arguing in court that it has a legal right to continue to enforce its residency rule. Unions representing Milwaukee cops and firefighters have asked a judge to order the city to follow the new state law.

Milwaukee Public Schools, which formerly had enforced a residency requirement, is following the new law.

Walker's action changes this to a Promise Kept.

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher May 31, 2012

Dropped from budget, separate bills died

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.

Our Sources

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, 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

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