Joint Finance Committee Republicans Bail on Funding Education

School-funding update
JFC budget for public schools even worse than expected
Contact your legislators about anti-public education budget
Opportunities to fight against Finance Committee’s budget
Help WAES spread the school-finance reform message
School-funding reform calendar
The Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) is a statewide network of educators, school board members, parents, community leaders, and researchers. Its Wisconsin Adequacy Plan — a proposal for school-finance reform — is the result of research into the cost of educating children to meet state proficiency standards.
JFC budget for public schools even worse than expected
Just when public school advocates thought funding problems couldn’t get any worse, the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) proved them wrong.
Early Friday, the panel adopted motions that not only reduced the Governor’s public school budget by over $300 million, but also slashed the public school revenues local school boards anticipated in their budgets for the 2005-06 school year. In addition, the committee drastically reduced Governor Jim Doyle’s categorical aid package.

One Republican member of the committee, Sen. Robert Cowles of Green Bay, broke ranks and joined four Democrats (Sens. Russ Decker, Schofield, and Lena Taylor, Milwaukee, and Reps. Pedro Colon, Milwaukee, and Mark Pocan, Madison ) to vote against the omnibus motion that contained general school aid and revenue limits. And, although he voted “yes,” Wisconsin Public Radio reported this morning that Sen. Luther Olsen, Republican from Berlin, said there wasn’t enough money in the budget.
Voting in favor of the JFC budget that reduces anticipated school funding were (all Republicans) Sens. Scott Fitzgerald of , Mary Lazich of , Alberta Darling of , Robert Cowles of , Joe Leibham of , and Olsen; and Reps. Dean Kaufert of Neenah, David Ward of Fort Atkinson, Jeff Stone of Greendale, Scott Jensen of Waukesha, Kitty Rhoades of Hudson, and Dan Meyer of Eagle River.
Gov. Doyle characterized the JFC action saying, “Not only will the Republican budget cause the largest education cut in decades, but it also sets taxpayers up for a huge property tax increase. Republicans know there is no way schools can handle this kind of cut, and the only option will be a massive increase in property taxes.”
Gov. Doyle referred to the particulars of the motion that:
Increases general school aids by 4.3 percent ($462 million over the two years of the budget as compared to the Governor’s request for $940), an amount the Wisconsin State Journal said “school officials say (is) far less than they need, even to cover current obligations ( ).”
The same motion also reduces the per-student increase allowable under revenue limits, stopping local school boards from making up lost state aid from property taxes (except through referenda). Current law — and the per-student increase — used to set school budgets for next year is $248 per-student, per-year. The JFC plan slashes that to $120 per-student in the first year of the biennium and $100 in the second … a two-year total that is less than one-half of the one-year levy limit increase under current law.
The next stop for the Joint Finance Committee’s version of the budget — and the next place for public school advocates to get involved (see below) — is the Assembly, where Speaker John Gard, Republican from Peshtigo, said lawmakers will take it up on June 22 and deliver it to the Governor by July 1. Following action in the Assembly, the Senate gets a shot at the budget, then the Governor (for possible vetoes), and then final approval by the Legislature (veto override session if necessary.
Gov. Doyle has promised to “use every power at (his) disposal to make sure that we get a budget that is fair to both property taxpayers and our schools,” including vetoing the entire document.
For more budget coverage see’s JFC blog at and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel at Following analysis of the JFC budget, the WAES website at will feature a chart of the committee’s action in regard to public schools, including how panel members voted.
Contact your legislators about anti-public education budget
Although the Joint Finance Committee has approved a budget that further restricts revenues to public schools that have struggled under caps for over a decade, we still have a chance to get involved.
First, you need to contact members of the Joint Finance Committee who voted for the budget — if they represent you — and explain to them your displeasure. It is time they are held accountable for the harm they are doing to our schools. If you don’t know who represents you (Senators and Representatives), go to (complete with contact information) and find out. Then, check the website of JFC ( to see if they are on the panel. If so, call, write, or e-mail them (just click on the link) about what their action means to your schools and your children.
Second, you need to contact your Assembly representatives ( — the next stop for the budget — whether or not they are Republicans or Democrats and whether or not they are on Joint Finance. You need tell them that you expect them to change the JFC budget because it hurts public education in Wisconsin. And, most importantly, you need to tell them you will be watching how they vote.
Opportunities to fight against Finance Committee’s budget
Although the only real end to the annual ritual of public education budget cuts is complete reform of the school funding system, we should take every opportunity to point out how bad the budget approved early Friday by the Joint Finance Committee really is. Here are three opportunities to get involved:
Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) members will be in Madison on Thursday, June 16, for their annual lobby day.You can get details off of their website at
The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF) is sponsoring a “Support Wisconsin Values” rally and lobby day on Tuesday, June 21. Details will appear on the group’s website at or you can contact Linda Kleinschmidt, WCCF government relations manager, at or 608-284-0580 (extension 306).
Budget cuts could lead to to the closing of many of the schools in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). The MPS board has decided to ask the public for input on criteria for those closings. It would also be an excellent time to register disgust with the JFC budget and its impact on children. Hearings — all from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. — will be held June 20 at the High School of the Arts and at Bay View; June 21 at Rufus King High School; June 22 at John Marshall and Riverside University high schools; June 23 at Vincent and Pulaski high schools; June 27 at Washington and Custer high schools.
Help WAES spread the school-finance reform message
Still, the only way to solve the state’s school funding problems is to change the way we finance our public schools. That’s the message we need to spread all over the state.
First of all, you can sign up for a school-funding reform presentation. An outreach specialist will work with you to plan an event and then show up to be part of the presentation. You can see the present schedule at the bottom of this e-mail update. We have reached hundreds of people this way … many who are now partners in the coalition.
For those who aren’t sure when, where, or how they will have a presentation … but still want to educate themselves and members of the community … “Adequacy To Go” is for you. The package contains a CD — complete with a school-funding reform PowerPoint presentation — and supporting documentation and material.
You can order both by going to and making the appropriate selection.
School-funding reform calendar
June 7 — Jack Norman, IWF and WAES research director, will be part of “A Closer Look at the June 21 Referendum” to be held at Memorial Hall, 72 7th Street, in Racine, beginning at 7 p.m.
June 21 — School-funding reform presentation for the Racine Retired Educators’ Association, 11:30 a.m., at the Roma Lodge, 7130 Spring Street in Racine
June 23 — Multi-district school-funding reform presentation, from 7 to 9 p.m., in the auditorium at Three Lakes High School
Oct. 13-14 — School-funding reform presentations for the Northwestern Wisconsin Education Association at Eau Claire Memorial High School, 2225 Keith Street (presentations at 12:25 p.m. on Oct. 13 and 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 14)
Please feel free to share your copy of the WAES school-funding update with anyone interested in school-finance reform. Contact Tom Beebe ( at 414-384-9094 for details.

Tom Beebe, Outreach Specialist
Institute for Wisconsin’s Future
1717 South 12th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204
414-384-9094 (office)
920-650-0525 (cell)