Gov. Tony Evers reaffirmed his call for the state to pick up two-thirds of the costs for K-12 education in his State of the State Address. Along with that, he pledged to champion his calls for more funding for special education and mental health supports. Additionally, closing achievement gaps and connecting the dots between the underlying cause of poverty and educational attainment were key points in his first-ever address.
“The investment we make in our kids today will yield dividends for generations,” he told those gathered at the Capitol, including WEAC President Ron Martin, who attended representing public school educators.
“Governor Evers is dedicated to public education and the success of students,” Martin said. “He leads through collaboration and with optimism for what Wisconsin can be when we restore democracy.”
The state is funding 65.4 percent of K-12 education in the 2018-19 fiscal year, and the cost to return to two-thirds funding depends on a number of factors. That includes whether it would be accomplished through general aids, which are based on a district’s wealth, or other means. Voters were clear that education was a top priority in November’s election, and Evers said boosting funding is possible.
“Connecting the dots means recognizing that what’s best for our kids is best for our state,” Evers said.
State Budget Process
Evers, who will present his budget March 5, called on lawmakers to work off his budget rather than developing one of their own. Evers held a series of public listening sessions in December and said he will incorporate what he heard into his proposal, including funding for roads and an economy that benefits everyone.
Working across the Aisle
With gridlock anticipated between the Democratic governor and Republican Legislature, Evers voiced his expectation that government focus on priorities of the people – not politics as usual. He said legislation should have bipartisan support because Wisconsinites deserve that.
“Given the challenges we face, I expect the Legislature will focus on these important priorities instead of being distracted by division and preventing us from working together to get things done,” Evers said.