Education Advocacy Update: State budget on its way to the governor

The 2019-21 Wisconsin budget bill is on its way to the governor, following Senate approval Wednesday. All Senate democrats voted against the bill which sharply decreased public school spending proposed by the governor and did not fully expand federal Medicaid funding. Republicans Steve Nass and Dave Craig also voted against the bill, citing what they called high levels of spending and bonding within the document, among other things.

Governor Tony Evers can sign the bill into law as it stands, veto the entire bill or parts of it, or allow it to become law without signing it. Republican leaders haven’t indicated whether they will send it to the governor, triggering the review period. If they don’t send it on to Evers, he has the option to call for it, triggering the review period. If neither option happens, the budget would go to the governor on August 1.

The budget passed by the Legislature is far less than the document proposed by the governor and supported by WEAC. The document does begin to take steps to invest in K-12 public schools and Wisconsin Technical College System, including:

  • Raises revenue limits by $200 per student in the first year of the budget and an additional $204 in the second year;
  • Provides $97 million more special education categorical aid;
  • Includes an additional $20 million for student mental health;
  • Calls for an additional $4.6 million for high-cost transportation; and
  • Raises the revenue caps for low-spending districts to $10,000 over the next two years

Click here to contact your elected officials in the Assembly and Senate.

Click here to see a comparison of the education provisions the governor proposed and what the JFC passed.

Bills We’re Watching
Find all the bills we’re watching at www.weac.org/bills.

Minority Teacher Loan Program. (AB 51/SB 55). Provides for statewide expansion of a program offering loan forgiveness for minority teachers who teach in schools that have at least 40 percent minority students. Right now, only teachers in Milwaukee schools are eligible for the program. Passed Assembly, Currently in the Senate Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families.

Pupil Records (SB57 AB53). Expands pupil information allowed to be disclosed by a public school to include the names of parents or guardians. Under current law, the information that may be included in “directory data” that may be disclosed to any person (as long as a public school notifies families of the categories of information and informs families an opt out procedure) includes pupil name, address, telephone, date/place of birth, major field of study, activity/sport participation, attendance dates, photographs, weight and height as member of athletic team, degrees/awards, and most recent school attended. School districts may include all, some or none of the categories to designate as directory data. Passed Assembly, Currently in Senate Education Committee.

Safety Drills. (AB 54 / SB 56) Under this bill, the person having direct charge of the public or private school may provide previous warning of any of these drills if he or she determines 
that providing previous warning of the drill is in the best interest of pupils attending 
the school. Currently, no advance notice is allowed. Passed Assembly, Currently in Senate Education Committee.

School Report Cards. (AB 67 / SB 64). Requires school report cards to include the percentage of pupils participating in music, dance, drama, and visual arts, would be amended to clarify that changes would begin with the 2020-21 school year under an amendment offered by Rep. Joel Kitchens. Under the bill, DPI would include this information for each high school and school district, along with the statewide percentage of participation in each subject. The bill specifies that this information may not be used to evaluate a school or district’s performance. Passed Assembly, currently in Senate Education Committee. 

Special Education Licensure (AB 164 / SB 183). This bill is almost identical to one that was circulated a couple of years back. This makes exceptions for particular license area, which could open the doors to more carving out of exceptions in specific licensing areas and lowers the standard for special education teachers, those teachers who serve Wisconsin’s most intellectually vulnerable population. Passed Assembly, Currently in Senate Education Committee.

Out-of-State Teacher License Reciprocity (AB 195 / SB 184). Would change the way a person who has been educated and licensed to teach out of state can become licensed to teach in the state of Wisconsin. This bill would continue to allow a person who is educated and licensed out of state to begin teaching in Wisconsin with a 1 Year License with Stipulations. After two successful semesters, that person would then be eligible for a License Based on Reciprocity. Furthermore, this bill would move the License Based on Reciprocity to a Tier II Provisional License. Passed Assembly, Currently in Senate Education Committee.