Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
MacIver Institute Unveils Transparency Website
The John K MacIver Institute for Public Policy announces the launch of WIOpenGov.Org, Wisconsin’s premier web portal for government employee payroll and benefit data.
“At the MacIver Institute, we believe taxpayers deserve to know how their money is spent,” said MacIver President Brett Healy. “WIOpenGov.org will be a one stop shop for information regarding government spending at the state and local levels.”
Healy said MacIver staff does not augment or manipulate the data it receives from the state and local governments. The site has search and analytical capabilities not available on other sites and currently includes payroll information for all state employees, payroll and benefit information for every K-12 school employee in Wisconsin and information from several large municipalities.
“As we attempted to gather the information for WIOpenGov.org, we were amazed at the number of roadblocks some in government tried to put in our way,” said Healy. “We believe the public has a right to know this information and we’ll continue to devote resources to make sure it is available to taxpayers who pay the salaries of every public employee.”
All of the data available on www.WIOpenGov.org is public, in accordance to state law. However, oftentimes, different government entities had varying commitments to just how accessible the information was to the general public.
As an example, Healy said the UW System made payroll information available as a pdf document, but not in an easy to convert spreadsheet. Healy is still working with the UW to acquire the payroll information. Outagamie County officials, in reply to a MacIver open records request wrote, “We do not hold any documents in spreadsheet format with the requested information. Nor do we hold any single document with all the information you requested.”
Nevertheless, Healy says the MacIver Institute will continue to gather information from throughout Wisconsin.
“It is unfortunate that some make the public jump through hoops to obtain public information,” said Healy. “However, with WIOpenGov.org, we’ve done the jumping for them.”
Earlier this year the MacIver Institute played a pivotal role in making public key provisions of proposed contracts with state government employee unions. Although those proposed agreements were ultimately not affirmed by the then-Democrat controlled legislature, Healy said that experience helped with the formation of the new site.
“Eventually, we hope to post a wide magnitude of state and local government labor contracts on the site as well,” said Healy. “As long as the public continues to support our transparency efforts, we’ll continue to work hard to make this information accessible and easy to search.”
The MacIver Institute, a two-year old think tank located on the Capitol Square in Madison, is the Free Market Voice for Wisconsin. In addition to WIOpenGov.org, MacIver publishes research and analysis on education, tax and health care issues and operates the MacIver News Service—a copyright free open source news-reporting agency that focuses on state and local governments.