Democrats release K-12 funding plan

With Wisconsin’s budget deadline just days away, Legislative Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee unveiled a funding plan for Wisconsin’s K-12 public schools Thursday in the hopes of breaking the ongoing Republican stalemate.

The plan invests $729 million more in K-12 education than Governor Walker’s proposal and lowers property taxes by nearly $25 million. It would maintain per-pupil aid increases of $200 per student in the first budget year and $204 in the second included in Governor Walker’s budget proposal, and would also address low-spending districts.

“Wisconsin’s children are holding a 6 year-old promissory note, and the bill has now come due. Today, we should be voting to make good on the Republican’s promissory note to our children. Instead, Democrats are forced to bring forth a responsible education package that protects them from Republicans,” said Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

“If education is truly the biggest priority for Wisconsin state leaders, there should be no disagreement. Our motion provides the funding necessary to ensure that all schools and students throughout Wisconsin have the opportunity to succeed, and at the same time reduces property taxes statewide. The fact that the majority continues to stall and argue over adequately funding public education makes it clear this issue is still not a top priority for Republicans,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh).

“Republicans led by Governor Walker have cut more than $1 billion from our K-12 public schools and now is the time to finally make our schools whole and fund schools as the priority they need to be. The illusion that Wisconsin has a dire budget situation is just that; there is more money in state coffers than ever. Republicans have simply chosen to cut funding for public schools even when they know it hurts our workforce, even when they know it hurts families and our future. This is simply unacceptable,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).

“Republicans have had six years to fund our public schools, and yet they’re still fighting over the budget because they aren’t willing to make public education their first priority. It’s time to make a real investment in public education that ensures all our children have the opportunity to succeed – and that’s exactly what the Democratic plan does. Our kids deserve a budget that puts them first,” said Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point).

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Wisconsin Democrats introduce K-12 education budget proposal

As Republican leaders continue to negotiate Wisconsin’s two-year budget, Democrats on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee released their own proposal for K-12 education funding on Thursday. Their plan comes just a few weeks after a proposal from Assembly Republicans that focused on assisting school districts that spend less than most others in the state.

Legislative Update – June 21

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Latest in the Legislature

GOP legislative leaders are expected to continue meeting behind closed doors today, after spending much time Tuesday hammering out a budget deal on K-12 education, taxes and transportation.

There’s a possibility the Joint Finance Committee meeting will meet Thursday, with K-12 education on the agenda. With competing school funding plans, they’re looking for agreement on per-pupil funding levels and approaches to low revenue limits, among other things.

The Assembly GOP plan would increase categorical aids per student by $150 in the first year of the budget and another $200 in the second and raise the low revenue adjustment to $9,800 per pupil in 2018-19 from $9,100 under current law. That plan would raise property taxes $92.2 million in 2018-19 as a result, something the governor has said he will not support. The Republican Senate has been talking about its own ideas, so there’s a lot up in the air.

Vouchers

A bill circulating for co-sponsorship would terminate voucher and special needs voucher programs, repeal the achievement gap reduction program and expand the student achievement guarantee program. Racine Education Association President Angelina Cruz and Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association Vice President Amy Mizialko took part in a press conference Friday promoting the plan.

Assembly Meets

Bills on the Assembly agenda include:

  • AB-071 Pupil Data Inventory (Legislative Council).
  • AB-072 Pupil Data Security (Legislative Council) Responsibilities of state superintendent related to privacy and security of pupil data.
  • AB-250 Alternative Education Grants (Assembly Education Committee).
  • AB-251 DPI Grant Programs (Assembly Education Committee) Modifying rules related to various grant programs administered by the Department of Instruction.
  • AB-266 Technical Excellence Scholarship Program (Krug, Scott) Eligibility for the Technical Excellence Higher Education Scholarship Program.
  • AB-280 Financial Literacy in Schools (Krug, Scott) Incorporating financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools.
  • AB-299 Free Expression in UW System (Kremer, Jesse) Free expression within the University of Wisconsin System, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, and granting rule-making authority.
  • AB-383 Parental Choice Programs (Kitchens, Joel) Parental choice programs, the Special Needs Scholarship Program, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.
  • AB-111 Threat to use Firearm (Doyle, Steve) Threat to use a firearm on school property to injure or kill a person and providing a criminal penalty.

Summer School

A bill to expand the types of online classes offered as summer classes or interim session classes to high school pupils and to pupils in grades 7 and 8 that qualify for state aid, AB 398, was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Commitee on Education.

Administrative Rules
DPI.
EmR1711. Stakeholder workgroups revisions to licensure, 2:30 pm: Thursday, July 6. GEF 3, 125 S. Webster, Room 041, Madison.

Don’t restrict school referendums, increase state funding, committee told

School officials and other supporters of public education spoke out Thursday against a package of bills that would severely restrict the ability of local school districts to raise needed funds through referendums. At a hearing on the bills, they blamed cuts in state funding of public education for the financial challenges faced by school districts and the rise in local referendums.

“The level of referendums would drop significantly if the state would get behind real education reform,” Baraboo School Board Member Doug Mering told the Assembly’s Education Committee.

According to a report in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mering said the problem isn’t the referendums, but inadequate state funding that forces districts to turn to their voters for additional revenue.

Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, summed them up this way, “Public schools were told, if you don’t have enough money, go to referendum, ask your local voters. And now you don’t like that either. You’ve driven schools into this and now that they’re doing it, you’re saying we got to stop this. I don’t understand the philosophy.”

The three referendum restriction bills are:

  • Assembly Bill 282, prohibiting a school board in a unified district from voting on a resolution to exceed a school district’s revenue limit at a school board meeting that is not a regularly scheduled monthly meeting, and prohibiting voting in a common or union high school (UHS) district on a resolution to exceed a school district’s revenue limit at a school district special meeting. The bill would further provide that the electors of common and UHS districts may vote upon an initial resolution to raise money through a bond issue only at the school district’s annual meeting.
  • Assembly Bill 268, eliminating recurring referendums to exceed revenue limits and limiting the duration of successful non-recurring (temporary) operating referendums to 5 years, creating an automatic “cliff effect” when those referendums expire. The bill would also convert all previously approved recurring (permanent) operating expense referendums to non-recurring (temporary) operating referendums with a duration of 5 years, which would create a similar “cliff effect.” The five-year clock would begin ticking in the year the bill, if enacted as a new law, is published.
  • Assembly Bill 269, requiring, with certain exceptions (e.g., in cases of fire or natural disaster) that all referendum votes must be held on the dates of spring and fall General Elections. This would limit school boards to only two opportunities in an even-numbered year and only one opportunity in an odd-numbered year.

Ask committee to oppose referendum restriction bill

 

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Public school officials push back on bills aimed at slowing referendums

MADISON – Public school officials from around the state voiced opposition Thursday to a slate of bills aimed at slowing the growth of property-tax-raising referendums, saying the measures would usurp local control and leave many districts – particularly small, rural, systems – in dire financial straits.

Legislative Update – June 15

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Latest in the Legislature

Joint Finance Nixes Self-Insurance       
The Joint Finance Committee unanimously nixed the governor’s plan to move state workers to self-insurance, after halting meetings for over a week, saying it was risky and they can find other ways to insure schools. “I’m happy we were able to do that without sticking it to state employees,” Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, told Madison insiders.

JFC leaders also told insiders that they are getting close to an agreement on K-12 education. The Assembly Republicans have introduced their own education budget, while Senators have said they’ll likely work off the governor’s proposal. We’re still waiting for three biggies – education, transportation and taxes – to be taken up. The current state budget expires on June 30.

Assembly and Senate Floor Sessions

The Assembly and Senate were in session Wednesday – it was the last scheduled date for a Senate floor session. Senators will convene as necessary going forward, but so far no other floor sessions are on the docket. The Assembly is expected to meet on June 21, when campus speech might be taken up, along with:

  • AB-071 Pupil Data Inventory An inventory of pupil data.
  • AB-072 Pupil Data Security Responsibilities of state superintendent related to privacy and security of pupil data.
  • AB-250 Alternative Education Grants
  • AB-251 DPI Grant Programs Modifying rules related to various grant programs administered by the Department of Instruction.
  • AB-266 Technical Excellence Scholarship Program Eligibility for the Technical Excellence Higher Education Scholarship Program.
  • AB-280 Financial Literacy in Schools Incorporating financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools.
  • AB-299 Free Expression in UW System Providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, and granting rule-making authority.
  • AB-383 Parental Choice Programs The Special Needs Scholarship Program, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.
  • AB-111 Threat to use Firearm Threat to use a firearm on school property to injure or kill a person and providing a criminal penalty.

Referendum Restrictions
Also today, the Assembly Committee on Education held a public hearing on three bills to restrict school boards’ ability to place referendum questions before district voters and limit the length of time a successful referendum can be in effect. Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, summed them up this way, “Public schools were told, if you don’t have enough money, go to referendum, ask your local voters. And now you don’t like that either. You’ve driven schools into this and now that they’re doing it, you’re saying we got to stop this. I don’t understand the philosophy.”

The three referendum restriction bills are:

  • Assembly Bill 282, prohibiting a school board in a unified district from voting on a resolution to exceed a school district’s revenue limit at a school board meeting that is not a regularly scheduled monthly meeting, and prohibiting voting in a common or union high school (UHS) district on a resolution to exceed a school district’s revenue limit at a school district special meeting. The bill would further provide that the electors of common and UHS districts may vote upon an initial resolution to raise money through a bond issue only at the school district’s annual meeting.
  • Assembly Bill 268, eliminating recurring referendums to exceed revenue limits and limiting the duration of successful non-recurring (temporary) operating referendums to 5 years, creating an automatic “cliff effect” when those referendums expire. The bill would also convert all previously approved recurring (permanent) operating expense referendums to non-recurring (temporary) operating referendums with a duration of 5 years, which would create a similar “cliff effect.” The five-year clock would begin ticking in the year the bill, if enacted as a new law, is published.
  • Assembly Bill 269, requiring, with certain exceptions (e.g., in cases of fire or natural disaster) that all referendum votes must be held on the dates of spring and fall General Elections. This would limit school boards to only two opportunities in an even-numbered year and only one opportunity in an odd-numbered year.

Vouchers
A bipartisan Senate bill (SB293)/Assembly bill (AB383) is on the fast-track, with a host of changes to the voucher program. It received an Assembly hearing Tuesday and was approved by the full Senate. It’s a mixed bag, but what’s grabbing headlines is that voucher schools would have to conduct background checks. Lawmakers say they’re looking to streamline Wisconsin’s four separate privatization programs, but there are still serious concerns that this prioritizes selective vouchers over the public schools that serve all children.

Merit Scholarships
A fiscal estimate was received for WI AB 338, on a plan for sale of public lands to fund merit scholarships.

DPI Scope Statement
SS 055-17. Red Tape Review of rules governing school district boundary appeals, pupil nondiscrimination, and school finance.

Appointments

Several appointments have been made government boards:

  • Board of Regents of the UW System: Robert Atwell, Michael Jones
  • State of Wisconsin Investment Board: Norman Cummings, David Stein
  • Wisconsin Technical College System Board: Hunter Kautz

Legislative Update – June 12

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Latest in the Legislature

With the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee holding off meetings last week and committing to none in the future, the division between Assembly and Senate Republicans around, among other topics, education is front-and-center. The Assembly is still pushing its own education budget that differs significantly from the governor’s, while leading senators say lawmakers should work off the governor’s proposal and the promise of per-pupil categorical aids of $200 and $204 over two years – or perhaps the Senate Republicans will make their own.

Friday, several school groups released a joint memo in favor of that promise over the Assembly plan. You’ll remember WEAC weighed in early in the debate to support A Budget For All.

At the crux of the budget debate is the governor’s demand that property tax bills sent to homeowners in 2018 will be lower than those they received in 2014 or another year. Due to a lower lottery credit and rising costs for private school tuition vouchers, the budget Walker sent lawmakers no longer meets his own pledge of coming in below the $2,831 bill for a median-valued home in December 2014. And the governor is campaigning heavily in advance of a formal re-election bid that he is helping schools.

The Assembly plan would cut about $90 million from the governor’s school plan, and result in a slightly larger property tax bill, in part, because it would allow low-spending school districts to raise per-pupil spending from $9,100 to $9,800 through a property tax increase.

By the Issue

School Employee Tuberculosis Screening. AB-382, requiring screening of school district employees for tuberculosis, was referred to the Assembly Education Committee.

Vouchers. A pair of bills in the Senate (SB-293) and Assembly (AB-383) are moving quickly through the Legislature, with the Senate bill getting a public hearing just two days after it was introduced and the Assembly companion bill up this week.

See Other Bills We’re Watching

Coming Up:

Tuesday, June 13

Wednesday, June 14

Thursday, June 15

  • Assembly Committee on Education public hearing. Members are to take testimony on several bills relating to school referendums. Also on the agenda is AB 77, relating to state aid payments to school districts; and AB 329, relating to prohibiting aiding and abetting sexual abuse.

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.

MTEA President Kim Schroeder Reacts to Proposed $90 Million Cut to Proposed K-12 Budget: Our Students Will Suffer

MTEA President Kim Schroeder speaks to a crowd outside the Milwaukee Joint Finance Committee public hearing on the two-year state budget, where overwhelmingly public education supporters demanded a per pupil increase for K12 funding (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

MILWAUKEE – June 6, 2017 – Today the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) president, Kim Schroeder, released comments on Assembly Republicans’ alternative budget proposal that would cut $90 million from the Governor’s already modest K-12 budget and reduce the per pupil funding by $50 per student.

The following statement can be attributed to MTEA President Kim Schroeder:

“Since Walker’s Act 10, Wisconsin students have experienced the greatest cuts to public education since the great depression. The decision to disinvest in public education has resulted in severely understaffed and under-resourced schools, not just in Milwaukee but across the state. From Milwaukee to Shawano, educators are supplementing a significant portion of their classroom materials with funds from their own pockets.


“Wisconsin students and educators cannot suffer one more cut. In a district with over 75,000 students, reducing the Governor’s budget proposal by $50 per student would result in $4 million less to spend on resources that have a direct impact on our students.


“All children have the right to attend fully funded public schools with professional educators, class sizes small enough for one-on-one attention, libraries, safe playground equipment for recess, current technology and textbooks. Every Wisconsin student, regardless of their zip code, needs Wisconsin legislators to commit to at least $200 in per pupil.

“Budgets are about choices. Over and over again we heard parents, educators, and community members testify in support of increased funding for public schools. We call on state legislators to choose our children in this state budget and fully fund our public schools with a minimum of $200 in per pupil funding.”

For over 50 years, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association has been a champion for public education in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association represents over 4,600 educators and support personnel who make Milwaukee’s public education system possible. MTEA, an affiliate of the National Education Association and is the largest educator local in Wisconsin. Learn more at mtea.weac.org.

Statement from the Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN) can be found here.

Public education advocates painted a banner in February calling for the full funding of public schools in Wisconsin (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

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Legislative Update – June 5

WEAC Legislative Update

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While public education advocates were expecting the Joint Finance Committee could take up some measures relating to the K-12 budget soon, things seem to be at an impasse. The panel had not issued any official notices for meeting, so there’s no telling how long it will be before they take up education funding. We will continue to monitor the schedule and alert you of any developments.

The delay comes from a stir around school funding caused by the Assembly Republicans again floating the idea of creating their own education budget, which could cut about $90 million from the budget proposal currently on the table. Senators continue to push back hard, saying they will work off the original plan. Read more.

The Assembly and Senate are expected to hold floor sessions again on Wednesday, June 14.

Also making headlines is WEAC President Ron Martin, who penned an op-ed to underline the groundswell of support for neighborhood public schools – and let legislators know parents and educators are paying close attention to what happens in Madison. Read the column.

By the Issues
Community Schools. SB 282, creating community school start-up grants was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Education. Under this bill, the DPI would award competitive grants to school boards for community schools, as matching funds from the community. The bill defines a “community school” as a public school that focuses on improving student learning, strengthening families, developing healthier communities, working with community partners to provide additional services to the surrounding community, and providing wrap-around support services to pupils and their families but does not include independent charter schools or charter schools that are not an instrumentality of a school district. The bill specifically requires a portion of the grants to go to rural schools, high-poverty schools and to transform low-performing schools. The grants would be for five years, with opportunities to renew.

Higher Education.

  • SB 289 (companion bill AB 373): Requiring University of Wisconsin System schools to offer degree credit internships for each academic major. Referred to Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges.
  • SB 290: Three-year bachelor’s degree statements for University of Wisconsin System universities. Referred to Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges.

Coming Up:

Wednesday, June 7

  • Public hearings on two bills (SB-300 and SB-304) regarding student testing are scheduled.
  • The Assembly Financial Institutions Committee will meet to act on AB-280, which would require the incorporation of financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools.

Tuesday, June 13

  • The Joint Finance Committee has scheduled a meeting to decide on the self-insurance contracts from Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, which the JFC co-chairs said the committee will reject.

Wednesday, June 14

  • Assembly and Senate floor sessions.

 

Legislative Update – June 2

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Ask committee to oppose referendum restriction bill

Tell your legislators to make public school funding a priority in the budget

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BILLS WE’RE WATCHING

Latest in the Legislature
The Joint Finance Committee is expected to take up K-12 funding in the state budget next week, and there are several hearings set for stand-alone bills that impact students and public schools (see list of education-related bills below). In advance, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released its papers on the education budget. The Committee is expected to meet next Tuesday, June 6, and Thursday, June 8.

Transportation was in the news this week, as it was announced that the transportation fund has $94 million more than was expected when the governor’s budget proposal was introduced. Instead of the estimated $8.4 million, the fund sits at $101.8 million. A hearing on elimination of the personal property tax was held Tuesday. Watch a one-minute video.

On the Issues:

Campus Speech. An Assembly committee moved ahead on an amended version of AB 299 (companion bill Senate Bill 250). The bill would require the UW System adopt a policy on freedom of expression and suspend or expel those who violate the policy twice. The amended version requires the university system to punish “violent or other disorderly conduct” that disrupts a speaker. The original version centered on boisterous or profane conduct. Republicans say the bill is needed to ensure people can listen to constitutionally protected speech from speakers on campus, no matter how controversial they may be. But others say the bill creates a safe space for racists. See details.

Financial Literacy in Schools. The Assembly Financial Institutions Committee will meet on Wednesday, June 7, to act on AB-280, which would require incorporating financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools.

Guns.

  • A public hearing was held Wednesday on SB-169 (companion bill AB-247), which would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, background check, or training (also lowering the minimum age and opening the door for guns in schools).
  • A group of Republican legislators is circulating a bill that would create gun safety classes for high school students. Under the bill, the state superintendent would have to work with the state Department of Natural Resources or police or an organization that specializes in firearms safety or certifies firearm instructors to develop the curriculum for an elective class on gun safety. Schools would not be required to offer the course. The authors say the class would help educate students who participate in their schools’ trap and target shooting teams.

Referendum Restrictions. The first of a series of bills that restrict local control for conducting referendums, SB 187, received a public hearing this week, with some surprise changes. As amended, the measure would now require a school board to include specific financial information in a resolution and in the referendum question for all bonding /construction referenda, resulting in an impact on more districts than the original proposal. The new version spells out exactly how districts much formulate an estimate on the interest and related debt service costs – using the interest rate in effect immediately before the adoption of the resolution. Of particular note is the referendum restrictions were altered from affecting only school districts to instead include all municipalities. There are a lot of unanswered questions, given the last-minute substitute amendment, including how much cost school districts would have to incur to meet the requirements of this measure – and how many more hoops they’ll have to jump through. One thing is certain, this bill usurps local control on all levels. Contact the Senate committee members considering the bill.

Sale of Public Land for Merit Scholarships. SB 270 would call for the sale of  more than 70,000 acres of public land to the Department of Natural Resources Stewardship program to create merit scholarships for UW students and would all but gut the popular conservation fund, experts say. UW System President Ray Cross praised the move to create “Wisconsin Merit Scholarships” for state students who earn good grades and score high on standardized tests, rather than students who most need financial aid to attend college. The Stewardship program has a budget of about $33 million that would drop to $10 million a year. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges.

Self-Insurance. The Joint Finance Committee has objected to ETF’s self-insurance passive review request.  JFC has scheduled a meeting for June 13 to decide on the contracts from Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, which the JFC co-chairs said the committee will reject. The panel has issues with Walker’s savings projections and saying switching employees to self-insurance is too risky.

Special Education Funding. SB211 and companion bill AB319 call for state funding of special education at 33 percent. The fiscal estimate of the Assembly version was received Tuesday. View Senate Bill History and Assembly Bill History, along with the Senate bill fiscal estimate and some additional notes.

Sales Tax Exemption. A state legislative panel gave a favorable recommendation Thursday to a bill that would extend a sales-tax exemption to materials bought for UW System and technical college projects.

School Board Salary Refusal. A bill authorizing school board members to refuse their salaries was signed into law this week as Act 9.

Tech Ed Equipment Grants. Technical education equipment grants for school districts were taken up this week through AB-199.

Testing. Public hearings are set Wednesday, June 7, on two pupil assessment bills.

  • AB-304 requires a school board, upon request of a parent or guardian, to excuse a pupil enrolled in any grade from 3 to 12 from taking any examination required under state or federal law, except the civics test that is a requirement for high school graduation. This bill expands the current law for exemptions to apply also to grades 3, 5, 6, 7 and 12. The bill applies to independently run charter schools, opportunity schools and private voucher schools.
  • AB-300 would go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, and require school boards each year to provide parents or guardians with a summary of examinations that the school board must administer under state and federal law and any other examinations used to assess pupil, school, or school district performance.  The bill applies to independently run charter schools, opportunity schools and private voucher schools (but in that case, only private school students who have state-subsidized tuition would receive the information).

Vouchers. A fiscal estimate was received for AB-315 (companion bill SB-227), which would give property taxpayers affected by the Racine and statewide voucher programs the final say on whether they want to be on the hook for tax dollars taken directly out of public schools to fund vouchers. The bill would require a referendum to pass before voucher schools can take state aid out of a public school district. The 2015 state budget changed state law to divert state funding to voucher schools at a rate much higher per student than public schools receive.

Coming Up:

Tuesday, June 6

  • The Joint Finance Committee is expected to meet, taking up K-12 education funding.

Wednesday, June 7

  • Public hearings on two bills (SB-300 and SB-304) regarding student testing are scheduled.
  • The Assembly Financial Institutions Committee will meet to act on AB-280, which would require the incorporation of financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools.

Thursday, June 8

  • The Joint Finance Committee is expected to meet, taking up K-12 education funding.

Tuesday, June 13

  • The Joint Finance Committee has scheduled a meeting to decide on the self-insurance contracts from Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, which the JFC co-chairs said the committee will reject.

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.

Legislative Update – May 26

CLICK HERE TO KEEP TRACK OF BILLS WE’RE WATCHING

Legislative Update

Lawmakers are thinking about scrapping the secretive budget maneuver that they used to drastically limit public access to government documents two years ago, and to enact a barrage of anti-worker policies four years back.

Higher Ed Funding

  • Tuition Freeze. Joint Finance Committee rejected the governor’s proposal to cut tuition and instead opted for continuing the freeze for the next two years for in-state undergrads. The guv had proposed keeping the freeze for the next year and then cutting tuition by 5 percent in 2018-19 while backfilling that with $35 million in general purpose revenue. But the Joint Finance co-chairs told reporters today the committee’s motion on UW will instead keep the tuition freeze for the next two years.  Beyond losing the $35 million Walker had earmarked to pay for the 5 percent tuition cut, the overall impact of the omnibus motion would be a reduction of $6.8 million in GPR vs. what the guv proposed.
  • Performance-based funding. The committee did go along with a proposal to bring performance-based funding to UW, though in a significantly different way. The guv had proposed adding $42.5 million to the UW System that campuses would split based on how they perform on certain criteria. He also had laid out specific metrics to measure performance, though UW officials said the regents should decide the specifics. The JFC set four of the state’s priorities and will let UW officials decide how to measure them.
  • Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership. The JFC supported providing $1.5 million annually to the proposed Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, which opponents are calling a far-right think tank, and supporters are calling a balance to liberal university biases.
  • UW Leadership. The JFC backed a measure to prohibit regents from only considering those with tenure or holding terminal degrees for appointments as the UW System president and chancellor and vice chancellor at UW institutions.
  • Green Bay Engineering School. The JFC recommended authorizing the creation of an engineering school at UW-Green Bay.
  • Oshkosh Foundation. The JFC backed prohibiting the regents from transferring funds to the UW-Oshkosh Foundation unless first approved by JFC.

Medicaid

JFC green lights Walker’s plan to drug test Medicaid, food stamp recipients
JFC approves Walker’s plan to drug test some Medicaid recipients

Coming Up:

  • Wednesday, May 31: Guns in elementary, middle and high schools. SB-169 and companion bill AB-247 would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, background check, or training (also lowering the minimum age and opening the door for guns in schools). A Senate committee hearing is scheduled May 31.
  • Wednesday, May 31: The Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions will hold a public hearing on AB 280, requiring public schools to incorporate financial literacy into their curriculum.

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.

Legislative Update and Action Alerts – May 25

Current WEAC Action Alerts

Tell your legislators to make public school funding a priority in the budget

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Ask your senator to protect the WRS

Legislative Update

The Joint Finance Committee has the UW on its mind today, as it sorts out whether to support the governor’s budget proposal for a 5 percent tuition cut or hold steady at a continuation of a tuition freeze. The panel delayed voting Tuesday on the issue. The JFC is also taking up the governor’s proposal to adopt a performance-based funding model at the UW System, looking to add $42.5 million that campuses would split based on how they perform on certain criteria.

Wisconsin Democrats are pressing the budget panel to restore UW funding and fund two years of free college education through the Fund the Freeze campaign, which calls on legislators to restore $210 million to the UW System budget in each of the next two budgets to pay for an ongoing freeze of UW tuition and fund two years of free college education. The JFC last week rejected a Democratic proposal to make technical colleges tuition-free, with the JFC co-chair saying, “Free college? News flash for you: Bernie Sanders lost. We don’t just get things for free in this country. We work for them.”

Transportation is still a big question mark in the budget deliberations, and the governor held a news conference today on the topic.

More Legislative Updates:

  • Referendum Restrictions. A hearing is scheduled Tuesday for one of six bills introduced to limit school boards from using referendums to provide for their students. SB 187 would require a school board to include specific financial information in a resolution and in the referendum question to exceed the school district’s revenue limit by issuing debt. That includes the total amount of debt to be issued, the total amount of interest and related debt service costs to be incurred, and the sum of the principal, interest, and related debt service costs. The practice of using an operational referendum to issue debt is small, but the move would result in a complicated ballot question.
  • Guns in elementary, middle and high schools. SB-169 and companion bill AB-247 would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, background check, or training (also lowering the minimum age and opening the door for guns in schools). A Senate committee hearing is scheduled May 31.
  • Military Service & WRS. AB-62 would add military service as credible service under the WRS. An amendment was offered this week requiring participating employers to contribute an additional percentage of earnings to reflect the shared cost of granting creditable military service.
  • Career and Technical Education Grants. SB-127, relating to career and technical education incentive grants, had a public hearing by the Workforce Development, Military Affairs and Senior Issues. The companion bill is AB-192.
  • Penalties for making school gun threats. SB-82 and companion bill AB-111 would make it a crime to intentionally convey any threat or false information concerning an attempt to use a firearm to injure or kill a person on school property, on transportation provided by a school, or at an event sanctioned by a school. A person who is convicted of the crime would be guilty of a Class I felony.

Coming Up:

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.