Education Advocacy Update: JFC to Finish Up State Budget
The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee is expected to wrap up its work on the 2021-23 state budget on June 17. The panel’s recommended budget then goes to the full Legislature.
Education advocates are encouraged to contact your own state legislators before the budget reaches them to urge greater support for public education. The committee’s budget provides for a mere 1 percent increase in public school funding.
The JFC plan provides no revenue limit increase, general state aid increase, per-pupil increase nor low revenue ceiling increase, and is only one-tenth of what the governor proposed. The committee support an $86 million increase in special education aid, much less than the 50 percent reimbursement proposed in the governor’s budget. Statewide, school districts transfer $1.15 billion each year from general funds to cover the cost gap between required special education services and what the state provides. Education leaders warn that failure to invest in public schools will have long-term consequences for school districts when it comes to funding formulas in future budgets, resulting in fewer opportunities.
Republican leaders who intended to supplant state investments with federal emergency funding for pandemic relief put Wisconsin in jeopardy of losing up to $2.3 billion in federal pandemic relief funds for schools. That’s because states must show maintenance of effort to fund public schools in order to receive the funding. Federal authorities stressed the one-time federal emergency school funding is not designed to supplanting state education investments, but instead must be used for safety measures and student academic and mental health supports.
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