SN: Gov. Doyle, in the 2005-07 state budget, you provided more than $700 million for K-12 schools and restored two-thirds funding in the second year of the biennium. Will school funding again be your priority in the 2007-09 state budget? Will you propose restoring the state’s two-thirds funding commitment?
Doyle: Education is my top priority.
As governor, I have consistently
fought to ensure that our schools have the resources they need to maintain the high quality of instruction and services that Wisconsin
parents and taxpayers expect.
While I have fought to increase resources to make Wisconsin’s high-quality schools even better, I have also been helping to protect our schools from repeated Republican attacks to cut school funding. In the 2003-05 biennial budget, I vetoed Republican efforts to cut $400 million from our schools, and, again, in the 2005-07 budget, I vetoed Republican efforts to cut $330 million. These cuts would have put thousands of teachers out of work, forced the elimination of arts and foreign language classes, increased class sizes and put our children’s education at risk. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards released a study that showed the Republican budget proposal could have meant the elimination of more than 4,700 teacher positions.
Just as it was in this past budget, school funding will continue to be a top priority of mine in the 2007-09 biennial budget. As part of this commitment,
I will again propose funding two-thirds of the cost of local schools in the 2007-09 biennial budget.
SN: Rep. Green, at the State Education
Convention in January, you stated that you are opposed to the restoration of the state’s two-thirds funding commitment for schools.
At what level should the state fund public K-12 schools?
Green: I believe that a strong education
system is critical to the future of our state. Without a solid educational
foundation, we are disadvantaging
our students as compared to students from neighboring states.
While education will always be my top spending priority, given our current fiscal climate, I think it would be irresponsible for me as a candidate to be our state’s chief executive to say I would arbitrarily commit to a $500 million spending increase. I believe our state needs to commit to K-12 education an amount that begins to meet the mutual goals established for our K-12 public schools by the citizens of Wisconsin, the governor’s office and the state Legislature. For some years that may, in fact, be two-thirds funding, but in others, it may be more or it may be less. In either case, I will increase funding for education — it is just a matter of how much.
I cannot, in good conscience, make a promise I am not 100 percent certain I could keep. Jim Doyle promised as a candidate in 2002 to fund two-thirds. However, less than two months after being in office, he broke that promise.
If there is one thing I know about our state it is that there is no shortage of good ideas. My door would always be open to you to make certain we are meeting the needs of our students.