Walker says increasing K-12 education funding is his ‘top priority’ in 2017

In year-end interviews with the media, Governor Walker said he will propose a “sizable increase” in K-12 education funding in his 2017-19 state budget that will be presented to the Legislature in February.

The Wisconsin State Journal says Walker declared that increasing K-12 education funding is his “top priority” in the budget. The Associated Press quotes Walker as saying public schools would see a “sizable increase” in state aid, and that he is specifically targeting rural schools for more money.

Also, the Wheeler Report quotes Walker as saying he would like to create a “disincentive” for school districts to continually use referendums to fund education.

It quotes Walker as saying, “We need to figure out some way to say if you want to go to referendum, you can but that district has to pick up that cost.”

Walker went on to say: “We will pay the base, and we will increase the base each year, but we don’t want this patchwork system where we are paying more for some who pass referendum and we don’t for others.  For those who don’t it’s not fair if they don’t choose referendum, or can’t pass one.”

(Note: We won’t know exactly what this means until Walker releases details of his state budget in the next fews weeks, so it’s important to remain vigilant and follow developments carefully. We know we will have to play an important role in advocating for public education and children as the budget process proceeds. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for State Budget Alerts from WEAC by going to weac.org/budget.)

On other school-related topics, Walker said:

  • VOUCHERS: He may make some “small tweaks” to the school voucher program but that there would not be any major changes (Wheeler Report). He has not made a decision on whether to lift the 1 percent cap on the number of students in a school district that can participate in the statewide private school voucher program (Wisconsin State Journal).
  • DRUG TESTING OF STUDENTS: He is not interested in a proposal to randomly drug test high school students in extracurricular activities (Wisconsin State Journal).
  • SCHOOL CONSOLIDATIONS: He agrees with incentives for school consolidation but believes it needs to be permissive (Wheeler Report).
  • BACK-TO-SCHOOL TAX HOLIDAY: He wants to enact a sales tax holiday on back-to-school fall purchases in the budget. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).