Wisconsin State Representative Brett Davis (R-Oregon):
As families across Wisconsin get ready to send their kids back to school, it is important to focus on how we are going to continue to improve student achievement for all our children. As chairman of the state Assembly Education Committee and having my son Will entering the ranks of pre-school, I understand the need to constantly look to improve our education system in Wisconsin so our kids and grandkids can compete in a competitive global economy and be productive citizens.
To increase student achievement in Wisconsin, I recently announced a comprehensive K-12 education improvement plan that I believe will reduce property taxes, make our school finance system more sensible, modernize student assessments, and direct more resources to classroom instruction. First, however, it is necessary to point out the current financial commitment to K-12 education in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has 426 school districts educating approximately 868,000 students. The current state budget will spend more than $12.3 billion during the next two years on K-12 education, the most amount of money ever spent on education in our state’s history. This amount represents 44 percent of our state’s general purpose revenue (our tax dollars) and appropriately is our number one state financial commitment. In 2008-09 it is estimated local school districts, primarily through property taxes, will spend another $5 billion. When all funding is combined, including the $600 million we receive from the federal government, we spend about $12,600 per student. In 2005-2006, our state spending level ranked Wisconsin 14th nationwide, according the US Census Bureau.