May 21, 2021

Education Advocacy Update: State School Budget To Be Taken Up & More

Education Advocacy Update: State School Budget To Be Taken Up & More Featured Image

Things are popping in the state Legislature as the Joint Finance Committee prepares to act on the state’s plan for the third round of federal COVID funding and take up K-12 schools and higher education budgets. Public hearings are set on bills to limit transgender athletes.

Take Action on State Budget

Republicans are looking to end enhanced unemployment payments and reinstate work-search requirements. The Joint Finance Committee delayed action on broadband funding and the governor called a special session on Medicaid expansion. All of this as the Wisconsin Supreme Court nixed a new process that would have sent redistricting lawsuits to the High Court.

Read more in our latest WEAC Education Advocacy Update:

Education Funding in the State Budget

The Joint Finance Committee is taking up education funding in the 2021-23 state budget on May 27, even before revenue estimates are in that are expected to show the state is in even better financial shape and that there is even more revenue that could be dedicated to any number of underfunded programs in our public schools. Send an email now to advocate for our students.

Federal COVID Funding

The Joint Finance Committee will consider a DPI plan for distributing the third round of Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) just before it takes action K-12 funding in the 2021-23 state budget. Wisconsin is one of the last states to submit its application, which is due June 7.

About $1.4 billion would be distributed based on the Title I formula and an additional $39.4 million would establish a $600,000 minimum grant amount for most school districts. Find estimates and see what the funds can be used for in local school districts here.

Governor Calls for Special Session to Expand BadgerCare

Governor Tony Evers has called for a special session of the Legislature on Tuesday to take up a bill proposal to expand BadgerCare and take $1 billion in federal funds. The bill would change the family income eligibility level up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line for parents and caretaker relatives under BadgerCare Plus and for childless adults currently under BadgerCare Plus Core.

Republicans have repeatedly rejected Evers’ call to expand Medicaid, leaving Wisconsin as one of 12 states that has refused, and the feds are offering the $1 billion to sweeten the deal. Evers said the federal funds would be invested into Wisconsin’s economic recovery through more than 50 projects and economic development initiatives.

Joint Finance Committee Delays Action on Broadband Funding

As the Joint Finance Committee last week continued to take up agency budgets, it stopped before taking up broadband expansion grants in the state budget. The postponement came after the governor announced he would use $100 million in federal COVID funds for broadband expansion.

Evers urged the committee not to cut the $200 million for broadband in his budget proposal as a result of one-time federal funding, saying both funding sources are needed to ensure Wisconsin is connected.

Bills We’re Watching

Transgender Athletic Participation (AB 195 / SB 323 & AB 196 / SB 322). These bills to limit transgender athletic participation are up for public hearings Wednesday. Learn more and take action.

African American History (AB 273). Requires model K-12 curriculum on African American history. There is no companion Senate bill.

Circulating for Co-Sponsorship

Redistricting (LRB 0756). Requires nonpartisan development of redistricting plans that include equal population requirements, boundaries that coincide with municipal wards and convenient contiguous territory. Stipulates the number of assembly districts must fall between 54 – 100 and that the number of senate districts may not be more than one-third nor less than one-fourth of the number of assembly districts. States districts must be drawn so the intent nor the result of the plan abridges the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process. Read more.

Athletic Associations (LRB 3322). Prohibits a school district from being a member of an interscholastic athletic association unless it makes an exception to allow transfer students to participate in sports. The measure only impacts the 2021-22 school year and would allow students who transferred to an in-person school during the pandemic to be eligible for sports there, which is currently not allowed under the WIAA rules. Read more.