The governor Thursday signed the state budget into law, after using his veto power on several provisions.
The budget is a mixed bag for public schools. It represents a 6 percent increase in state funding for K-12 schools – the first public school increase in six years. That includes a per-pupil increase outside of the school funding formula of $200 and $204 each year of the budget. Increases in categorical aids are also included, in areas such as mental health supports and rural school support.
The budget also continues the state’s practice of siphoning funds from public schools to subsidize private school tuition. Private school vouchers will be increased $217 per pupil each year of the budget, and the income limit is expanded to allow high-earning households to receive tax-funded tuition vouchers. Special needs vouchers are also expanded, and funding is increased substantially.
Teacher licensure is upended, and you can be sure WEAC will advocate intensely as administrative rules and procedures are developed to ensure Wisconsin students have qualified teachers and that the education professions are maintained and respected for their critical role in our democracy.
Governor Walker vetoed a provision that would have increased the amount of money school districts that spend less per student than the state average can raise in property taxes.
Kim Kaukl, who oversees the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, was quoted in the Wisconsin State Journal as saying the vetoed provision “would have allowed these districts an opportunity to move closer to an even playing field with neighboring districts. This veto continues to punish the districts that were frugal prior to revenue caps being instituted.”
For an overview of the state budget and public schools, visit www.weac.org/budget.
Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that he’s revising nearly 100 areas of the state’s new budget, axing a plan championed by Assembly Republicans to increase revenue for school districts that spend less than others and dramatically curtailing a popular state tax credit that helps restore historic buildings.