State Could Lose $1.5 Billion of Fed Funding Unless it Maintains K-12 Investments
Wisconsin must maintain its current funding commitment to K-12 schools to ensure districts qualify for the full amount available under federal emergency relief, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau said.
The Joint Finance Committee is taking up the governor’s Badger Bounceback Budget proposal for K-12 schools today, May 27, 2021, and what they do will definitely impact the amount of federal funds for Wisconsin schools. If the JFC passes the Bounceback proposed budget for education, and it is included in the final state budget passed by the Legislature, the governor’s office said Wisconsin will be in the clear for the full amount under Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) distributions.
Republican leaders have vowed zero increases in general aid for schools, and instead to supplant school funding in the 2021-23 state budget with federal money intended for pandemic-related relief, even though the federal money is not intended for general school operations. If the Joint Finance Committee refuses to invest in schools in the budget, the state’s commitment to K-12 would fall short of the federal requirement.
Based on the actions of the Joint Finance Committee so far, lawmakers would have to put another $428 million into K-12 and higher education to ensure Wisconsin gets $3.1 billion from all three federal COVID-19 relief packages, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. If the JFC spends additional general purpose revenue in other areas it’s yet to take up, more state education funding would be required to receive the full amount of federal emergency relief. If the JFC cuts spending in other areas it is still slated to take up, the required commitment to education would go down.
There is a waiver option for the maintenance of effort requirement, which the governor’s office said wouldn’t be necessary if the Bounceback Budget is passed.