Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts: Walker’s budget numbers for schools flawed

Sondy Pope-Roberts:

In the weeks ahead the biennial budget will be the dominant focus of the Legislature. Gov. Scott Walker has introduced his budget plan for Wisconsin, and while there are a number of troubling provisions, perhaps one of the most troubling is the drastic changes to public education that he proposes.
According to the Department of Public Instruction, school districts are expected to lose $1.68 billion in revenue authority and $835 million in state school aids over the next biennium. The governor has repeatedly touted the savings, tools and other reform measures that he says would soften the blow and even enhance education.
However, reducing the levy authority of school districts mandates a reduction in total spending, and changes to health insurance and pension contributions alone won’t suffice to cover the difference. That means layoffs, a decision made by Walker and not by local school districts.
The governor recently went to great lengths to highlight projected savings and other ways school districts would benefit under his budget. My office compiled a spreadsheet that outlines the inaccuracies in the governor’s projections. To outline the serious budgeting flaws, we relied on numbers from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau and the governor himself.