Rep. Colon Says Mayoral Control Bill Alive, Despite Delay

MacIver News Service

[Madison, Wisc…] State Democratic legislative leaders decided on Tuesday not to take up the MPS takeover bill during this week’s special session, preferring to wait until public hearings on the bill are held.

For Representative Pedro Colon, the Assembly author who partnered with Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) to propose the MPS mayoral control plan, it is important for the public to get a chance to officially weigh in on the bill, but that course of action also comes with risks.

“I think we owe it to the people of Milwaukee,” said Colon (D-Milwaukee) in an exclusive interview with MacIver News Service prior to the caucus meeting Tuesday.  “If we do it (vote on the bill) tomorrow without having a hearing it will be difficult.  Unfortunately my belief is that those who oppose it [mayoral control] are holding the ball.”

Many state officials and lawmakers, including Colon, believe giving the mayor control of MPS will be an essential component in Wisconsin’s bid for $4.3 billion in federal Race to the Top grants.  The application for those grants is due January 19th, and any decision on MPS must be made before then so the results can be incorporated into the state’s presentation.

“Unlike many other bills, this has an expiration date–we have to have our Race to the Top application done on January 14th,” explained Colon. “That is probably not the most important reason to do this, but that is the most important reason to do this before January 14th.”

Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee announced they will hold their public hearing in Milwaukee on January 5th. The Assembly has not decided on when and if they will hold a hearing on the plan.

Whether or not Colon’s bill makes it through before the January deadline, he is confident it will pass eventually.

“This is not a bill that will go away,” said Colon. “We will see some form or some aspect of this bill in the future, independent of party, because I think you have to do something.”

Colon provides further details on the process, and on why mayoral control is necessary for the educational and fiscal well-being of MPS, in this video report:

By Bill Osmulski
MacIver News Service