Governor Tony Evers has signed the two-year state budget, but not before he used his partial veto authority to effectively add almost $100 million more into K-12 education. In all, the budget invests around $570 million more in K-12 education.
He seriously considered vetoing the full document, saying the budget sent to him by the Republican majority legislature was in many way insufficient, including not providing enough resources to help students and schools be successful.
“The budget signed by the governor signifies his deep commitment to public schools and the people of Wisconsin,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “This budget represents some important investments in public schools, but this is only a down payment on what it will take to restore public education and democracy. Our advocacy for students and public schools has gotten the attention of elected officials, and we have more work to do. From improving pay so quality educators enter and stay in the profession, to implementing policies that support families and communities, WEAC is committed to building on our progress.”
In his budget message, Evers said, “…when I ran for this office, I said it was time for a change, and I made promises to the people of Wisconsin. I promised I would put politics aside to get things done.” The governor also stressed that it is critically important that Wisconsin address the underfunding of public schools. Read his message here.
Some other key budget notes include:
- Increasing special education funding by almost $100 million over the biennium. It is the largest ever increase in special education funding and the first since 2008.
- Investing $329.9 million in general aid to Wisconsin schools, the largest increase in over a decade.
- Providing $175 per pupil and $179 per pupil in each year of the budget, respectively, in additional revenue limit authority, the first adjustments in five years.
- Providing low-spending districts with modest additional funding by the low-revenue ceiling to $9700 per pupil in 2020 and $10,000 in 2021.
- Increasing funding for school mental health by $12.5 million.
- Eliminating the funding for administering a GOP measure that able-bodied adults with school-age children meet work requirements to receive food stamps and for adults without kids to go through drug screening to qualify. While the requirements remain, Evers’ eliminated the funding so they can’t be administered.
- Lowering property taxes by $518 million over two years through a combination of budget provisions and a different bill (AB 251) that he intends to sign. AB 251 uses online sales revenue to lower income taxes for the lowest two income tax brackets.
WEAC will provide additional analysis of the final budget soon, as well as action alerts for you to weigh in with your elected officials.