WEAC Education Advocacy Update: February 14, 2020

Bill to raise teacher retirement age passes Assembly, Senate committees
A bill to raise the minimum retirement age for teachers and other public employees in Wisconsin has been recommended by Assembly and Senate committees. Both versions of the bill are now available to be taken up by the full Assembly and Senate.

Oppose the Bill to Raise Our Retirement Age

SB 612 / AB 670 would raise the minimum retirement age for teachers to 59.5, who can now retire at 55. Under the proposal, retired public employees could work up to 36 months while collecting their pensions. The bill would apply to employees under the age of 40. While the bill would apply to teachers, a primarily female workforce, it would not apply to employees in male-dominated fields of protective services, including police officers, firefighters, most correctional officers and the state patrol.

State surplus: Governor calls for education investments, property tax relief while Republicans support tax cuts without school funding

Assembly Republicans have announced their tax proposal, AB-910, which was referred to the Joint Finance Committee for action on Monday, February 17. It is expected to be taken up in the Assembly February 20. The Senate could act on the proposal on Wednesday or wait until March, and, should it pass, it would be up to the Governor Tony Evers to sign or veto it.

The Republican proposal calls for a $250 million income tax cut. The plan also includes putting money toward debt payments and tax cuts for manufacturers.  Evers had previously called for $250 million to go to public schools.

Tell Your Legislators to Support Public Schools, Not Tax Cuts for Corporations

State of the Tribes Address
The State of the Tribes will be held at 1 p.m. February 19.

Assembly to hold floor session.
The Assembly will convene February 19 to vote on:

  •  (SB 688 / AB 737). Current law limits the number of nonresident school boards to which parents may apply for a pupil to attend a public school in a nonresident school district under the full-time open enrollment program. Currently, full-time open enrollment applications for a pupil may be submitted to no more than three nonresident school boards in any school year. This bill specifies that an application submitted to a nonresident school board for a pupil to attend a virtual charter school does not count for purposes of this limitation. 

Partial veto constitutional amendment proposal up for committee vote
The Assembly Constitution and Ethics Committee will meet Tuesday to vote on the following:

  •  (AJR-108).  This constitutional amendment would prohibiting the governor from using the partial veto to increase state expenditures. WEAC has registered against.

Assembly Committee on State Affairs has held a public hearing on:

  • (AB 816 / SB 744).This bill would require the Holocaust and other incorporating the Holocaust and other genocides into the state model social studies standards and requiring instruction on the Holocaust and other genocides. The companion bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Bills We’re Watching

  • (SB 816). This bill 1) eliminates the Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) program and the
    Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (former SAGE) program; 2) creates
    a new Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (new SAGE) program; and 3)
    phases out the parental choice programs and the Special Needs Scholarship Program
    (SNSP). There is no companion bill in the Assembly.
  • (SB 814 / AB 768). This bill creates the Council for Equity and Inclusion and the Office for Equity and Inclusion, both attached to the Department of Administration. Under the bill, the council must do all of the following: establish and annually update a statewide plan for equity and inclusion in this state; designate individuals to coordinate with the Office for Equity and Inclusion to implement and enforce the plan established by the council; review individual agency plans for equity and inclusion; and submit annual reports of activities and updates to the statewide plan for equity and inclusion to the governor and legislature. Under the bill, the Office for Equity and Inclusion must establish programs to implement and enforce the plan established by the Council for Equity and Inclusion.

Circulating for Co-Sponsorship:

  • (LRB-4377). This legislation (read more here) creates grants to be made available to Wisconsin residents enrolled at least half-time at a Wisconsin public institution. Furthermore, the program expands opportunities to undocumented neighbors by including them in the program parameters. These grants are not giveaways to students and require a true commitment on their part to complete counseling to understand the agreement, graduate with a GPA of 3.0 from the UW System and promise to remain continuously employed in the state of Wisconsin for three years after graduation.