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).
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.