$2.3 Billion at Risk in Federal School Funding
State education and congressional leaders are urging Republican legislators to invest in the state’s public schools, rather than risk losing $2.3 billion in federal pandemic relief funds.
WEAC and other state education groups were joined by Democratic U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore, Ron Kind and Mark Pocan in asking state lawmakers to revisit the Republican plan to increase state school funding by a mere 1 percent. The nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau reports that the state’s refusal to maintain a sufficient state investment in education puts $2.3 billion in federal relief funding in jeopardy.
“Republican lawmakers are playing a high-stakes game with $2.3 billion in funding at risk and willing to ante up our students,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “Enough is enough. Our students need these federal funds to address school safety, academic achievement and mental health. It is blatantly reckless for legislators to consider passing up Wisconsin’s fair share of funding while other states use it to recover from the pandemic.”
“Republicans in the state legislature are already poised to leave behind billions of federal dollars available to Wisconsin for Medicaid expansion,” Moore, Kind and Pocan wrote in a letter to the Legislature. “We urge you not to make the same mistake again. That is why we implore you revisit the proposed education budget and guarantee Wisconsin receives the federal funding it needs to ensure that every student has an opportunity to succeed.”
The Republican budget proposal, which commits less than one-tenth of the money for schools that Governor Tony Evers asked for in his budget proposal, relies heavily on federal COVID relief money to fund general programs. However, the relief is one-time funding specifically meant to cover expenses related to the pandemic like staffing needs and safety measures.
Republicans have called their 1 percent education budget a “historic investment” in schools, but that included the federal money Wisconsin is at risk of losing.
“Governor Evers has been a steady leader throughout the pandemic & is working hard to pass his Badger Bounce Back Budget for children, families and workers but Republican legislators are fighting him every step of the way,” Martin said. “Educators must step up to hold our elected officials accountable. Our students are depending on us.”