Legislative Update – Proposed School Budget calls for $1.4 Billion Increase
DPI Requests $1.4 Billion Increase in School Funding
The proposed 2021-2023 biennial budget request for K-12 public education and libraries has been submitted. The state superintendent said the DPI’s budget request is grounded in equity and is designed to meet the unique funding needs of schools while focusing on supporting the whole student. Several components, including additional funding for mental health and special education, were introduced earlier this fall. The final proposal also includes funding to meet needs presented by the pandemic. The budget would restore state two-thirds funding for public schools. Proposed budget
Key Points about the Proposed Budget:
- Includes an additional $844 million in equalization aids, with a 7 percent increase the first year and a 2.5 percent increase the second year.
- Calls for an additional $108.4 million in per-pupil aids, adding $150 for each student in poverty.
- Boosts special education funding by $371 million and mental health/wellness by $46.5 million.
- Allows districts to use 2020 or 2019 enrollments, whichever is greater, in calculations for state aid;
- Allows districts to count students in 4K as full-time equivalents for enrollment counts, instead of part-time.
- Limits how much aid a district can lose due to declining enrollments.
- Calls for annual increases to the per-pupil revenue limit to account for inflation, beginning with $150 in 2022. After that, the revenue limit would go up annually based on the consumer price index. It is estimated that would result in a per-pupil adjustment of $15.25 in 2023.
Ready for a Teacher in the White House and the U.S. Department of Education?
Mission accomplished. Joe Biden is the winner in the 2020 presidential election and that means his wife, teacher Jill Biden, will be in the White House, too. The Bidens have committed to naming an educator as Secretary of Education, instead of billionaire Betsy DeVos. Jill and Joe led a backyard conversation with WEAC members in Wauwatosa earlier this fall, listening to our national vision for public schools. Congratulations Education Advocates, for delivering the win in Wisconsin. Betsy DeVos, you’re fired. Read more
State Election Overview
The biggest take-away in state elections is that we were successful in protecting our governor’s veto authority, which required us to prevent Republicans from winning a supermajority in the state Legislature. Republicans picked up two seats in the Senate and lost two seats in the Assembly. When the legislative session begins in January, the state Senate will have 21 Republican and 12 Democratic senators. In the state Assembly there will be 61 Republican and 38 Democratic representatives. Read more
Election Fast Facts
- Brad Pfaff managed a narrow victory to keep a Democratic seat previously held by Senate leader Jennifer Shilling.
- U.S. Representative Ron Kind was reelected in the western La Crosse area.
- Republicans picked up the Green Bay Senate seat held for over 20 years by Senator Dave Hansen, a Democrat who retired.
- Republicans ousted Democrat Senator Patty Schachtner in northwestern Wisconsin. Schachtner had won the seat in a special election in 2017.
- Nationally, everyone was watching Wisconsin’s WOW counties in the Milwaukee suburbs (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington) which for years were a Republican base. When votes there shook out, Democrats beat Republican incumbent representatives Rob Hutton and Jim Ott. Democratic Representative Robyn Vining, also from that area, won re-election. Republican Senator Alberta Darling held onto her seat in that area.
- Senator Devin LeMahieu, a Republican from Oostburg in WEAC Region 3, has replaced Senator Scott Fitzgerald as Senate Majority Leader after Fitzgerald won a seat in Congressional District 5.
State Budget Process
Governor Evers is already expressing his openness to conversations with Republicans when it comes to crafting the next state budget. There are a lot of factors in play, including the impact of the pandemic on schools and the economy. WEAC is already preparing to organize around state budget discussion so educator priorities are reflected, including funding for student safety and learning and educator rights. Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos hinted to his approach to the upcoming budget recently, saying Republicans will make healthcare and education a priority. Right now, the best way to help prepare for this critical work is to encourage others to join us. Share Our Education Advocacy Alert Sign Up
Our election advocacy has everything to do with holding our elected officials accountable to our students, families and communities. WEAC has been at the lead calling for Republican leaders to do their jobs, after Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Senator Steve Nass of the Senate Education, Labor and Rules committee (one of the loudest critics on COVID-related health and safety issues) have refused to convene since mid-April to address the public-health crisis. The Legislature did not come into session to respond to social and racial justice issues, even when the governor called them into special session. In all, they refused to take action during several sessions called by Governor Tony Evers – including one on education funding.
What are Republican leaders willing to go to work for? There was the lame duck session not too long ago to take executive powers away from the governor before he began his term. They have filed a series of lawsuits again the governor’s executive orders to protect public safety. Read More and Take Action
Eleven counties and three municipalities passed referendums calling for nonpartisan creation of legislative maps, instead of the Gerrymandered legislative districts Wisconsin has now. While the referendums will not change state law that allows for the unfair maps that favor Republicans, they do send an undeniable message to the Legislature that Wisconsinites want fair, transparent government. That’s why saving the governor’s veto authority is so important, so checks-and-balances are maintained. Read more
Assembly Speaker Vos is making noise around election processes in Wisconsin, straight out of the Trump playbook. Wisconsin’s election systems worked as they were supposed to, were transparent and accurate. Instead of spending time on baseless distractions, top Wisconsin leaders should be focused on what’s next – healing our state.