February 11, 2021

Education Advocacy Update: State Budget and More

Education Advocacy Update: State Budget and More Featured Image
Wisconsin State Capitol Building in Madison, Wisconsin

Buckle up, friends. Next Tuesday, February 16 will be a Big Day – complete with a HUGELY IMPORTANT Primary Election for State Superintendent, the governor’s much-awaited budget address and even a visit from the President of the United States. Whew. Here’s what’s in store:

STATE BUDGET

Governor’s Address is Tuesday

Governor Tony Evers has made several announcements in advance of his budget address on Tuesday night, February 16. While educators are still watching for what he will propose for public education (see our budget page here), he has committed to mental health investments our union has advocated for, as well as funding to support solutions addressing childcare, including allowing workers to qualify for family leave when their child care providers are closed.

Read More:

Mental Health, BadgerCare: $150 Million

Childcare Quality, Affordability and Access, Long-Term Care: $740 Million

Budget Hearings

After the governor’s address, the budget goes to the Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee. WEAC has signed onto a letter urging the JFC to allow for virtual testimony on the budget due to the pandemic. I’ll keep you posted when more is known about public hearings around the budget.

 

STATE, U.S. GOVERNMENT

Biden To Visit WI

President Joe Biden will be in Milwaukee for a town hall at 7 p.m., the same evening of the Primary Election and the governor’s budget address.

Panel OK’s Plan for Federal COVID Funding

The Joint Finance Committee voted along party lines to use more than $65 million in federal COVID funds to reward districts that offering in-person instruction and incentivize those that have conducted virtual learning to move to in-person classes. Read more here.

Still No COVID Action

After vetoing a Republican COVID bill a week ago, the governor says he has not yet reached out to Republican legislative leaders on a path forward. Evers vetoed the bill, which included measures related to unemployment and other areas that he said he could not support. The governor had reached a compromise with the Republican majority Senate; however, Assembly Majority Speaker Robin Vos and his caucus refused the deal.

 Bills We’re Watching

  • Holocaust Education (AB-055). This bill would require instruction about the Holocaust and other genocides in state model social studies standards. It was referred to Assembly State Affairs Committee.
  • Workers Compensation (SB-011). This bill makes changes to the worker’s compensation law to help first responders receive post-traumatic stress disorder treatment through the worker’s compensation law. Read more.
  • State Employee Return-to-Work (SB-38). A Senate committee has approved this bill, which lays out a plan in which state employees would be required to return to in-person work during the pandemic.

Circulating for Co-Sponsorship

  • Microschools (LRB-0560). This bill would allow for microschools, a home-based private educational program provided to up to 20 children from two to five families in a single location. Microschools, under the bill proposal, would have to follow the criteria for compulsory school attendance and meet private school requirements. Students enrolled in microschools would be allowed to participate in resident public school district interscholastic sports and extracurricular activities.

ELECTIONS

The Primary Election for State Superintendent is Tuesday, February 16. WEAC has announced is recommending Dr. Jill Underly, Superintendent of the Pecatonica School District who will work to support public schools end vouchers. (Share a Video Here) There are seven candidates in the primary, with the top two finishers advancing to the April election. Help get-out-the-vote by joining a phone bank this weekend. Sign up here.

11.0101 communication with WEAC members.