Although he didn’t offer too many specifics, state Rep. Paul Farrow (R-City of Pewaukee) said Friday that education reform and funding are most likely going to be a top priority in the upcoming legislative session.
“It’s going to be an interesting solution we’ve got to come up with,” he said.
Farrow spoke in front of 27 people at what was billed as a candidates forum for the 33rd Senate District at Delafield City Hall. Farrow is competing against state Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) for the open seat in the Nov. 6 Republican special primary election. The primary winner will advance to the Dec. 4 special election.
The two are vying to replace Rich Zipperer, who resigned in July, when he was named deputy chief of staff for Gov. Scott Walker.
Kapenga was unable to make the forum due to a scheduling conflict.
The boundaries of the 33rd Senate District have changed because of legislative redistricting that took place because of population shifts in the 2010 census. The district now includes Delafield, portions of Waukesha, Sussex and Pewaukee.
Farrow answered questions for one hour and focused mainly on education related topics — ranging from provide students with better job skills to improving the secondary educational system in the state.
With many school districts losing state aid, Farrow said one issue the Legislature will look at during the upcoming legislative session and biennial budget will be restoring some of the cuts, if at all possible. He said he would like to see this if possible, but would also like to see a substantial tax cut for residents in the budget, not just a tax credit.
He said the cuts can be accomplished through changing the tax structure in the state and looking to new ideas on how other states are taxing people so Wisconsin can emulate best practices from those states.
Farrow was highly critical of the state’s secondary education system, saying students need to be allowed to keep credits when they switch between University of Wisconsin System colleges or go from a technical college to a four-year university.
One audience member asked Farrow his thoughts on possibly closing some UW campuses and while Farrow said he was unfamiliar with a plan for doing so, he did question the usage of buildings by the universities, claiming the University of Wisconsin-Madison only uses 43 percent of its building space.
He also questioned having 42 post-secondary institutions in the state and if campuses need to keep building at their current pace.
“Are they all running effective and efficiently? I don’t think so,” he said.
In the wake of the mass shooting in Brookfield and a second domestic abuse-related shooting in Waukesha this week, Farrow was also asked about changes that need to be made to protect victims in domestic abuse cases.
He said he would like to examine the judicial side of restraining orders to see what can be done or look to GPS systems that could alert victims when someone they have a restraining order against is within five miles of them.
“It was a tragic situation,” he said. “But one thing I try not to do is knee-jerk legislation.”
Farrow was also asked about the return of the contentious mining legislation that would allow for a new mine to open in northern Wisconsin.He said it will most likely be one of the first bills introduced in the upcoming legislation.
Farrow said he supports the mining bill, saying it will benefit the entire state. If elected, he said he would be someone who can reach out to Democrats to get the bill passed.
“This is an incredible thing that’s going to happen to this state,” Farrow said.