April 9, 2021

Badger Bounceback Session Focuses on Kids and Education

Badger Bounceback Session Focuses on Kids and Education Featured Image

Educators turned out in large measure to support a state budget that works for students, educators and public schools this week, as Governor Tony Evers held an education-focused Badger Bounce Back listening session. The event started with a discussion by the Governor and his staff on the importance of this budget and his core proposals regarding children. More than 200 participants tuned in to let the governor’s office know their education priorities.

From investments in student mental health to collective bargaining for educators, everything was on the table as the governor and his staff listened to educators and parents. Other topics included juvenile correction improvements, social/emotional programming, investments in school infrastructure for ventilation and more.

School funding in the governor’s proposed budget took center stage, especially his investments in special education. Participants were overwhelmingly supportive of the governor’s move to meet the state’s commitment to two-thirds special education funding and additional resources for early childhood education.

The governor’s proposal is now in the hands of the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. Educators are encouraged to get involved in supporting the plan by getting involved in public hearings and other opportunities. Find them all at www.weac.org/budget.

“We need to buckle up,” Governor Evers told the crowd during the virtual hearing. “Don’t let the Legislature ignore the solutions that are in our budget and were discussed here tonight.”

At a glance, the governor’s 2021-23 budget proposal:

  • Establishes collective bargaining rights for state and local government frontline workers and their bargaining units to provide workers with the opportunity to negotiate together and require employers to meet regularly on policies affecting wages, hours and working conditions. This applies to the PK-12 and WTCS membership.
  • Makes substantial state investments in our K-12 schools by restoring the two-thirds funding commitment and increases the special education aid to achieve reimbursement rates of 45 percent in the first year with an increase to 50 percent in the second. It also directs $54 million to programs for student mental health, English Language Learners and rural schools.
  • Addresses the deteriorating quality of educator health benefits by studying the state’s own employee health insurance program as a potential solution to save districts’ resources and ensure the financial well-being of educators.