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June 29, 2005

Gov. Doyle: Freeze Property Taxes, Not Education

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with citizens at town hall meetings in La Crosse and Milwaukee, and listen to their comments and concerns about the State Budget. From Medicaid funding, to support for environmental programs - I was happy to talk with people about the challenges facing Wisconsin in these tough fiscal times.

Many of the questions raised had to do with how we resolve the tension between our schools and taxpayers, between families with kids in school and families without kids in school. Our schools have helped set Wisconsin apart - they help our kids get good jobs when they grow up, and they are a reason why businesses choose to locate here.

But as property taxes have gone up and up and up, it's getting harder and harder on our families. Rising property taxes can take a toll on young families struggling to afford their first home, and can be even tougher for seniors on fixed incomes who are trying to stay in their homes.

For too long now, property taxpayers and our schools have been pitted against each other. It's always been a choice between higher taxes or cutting education. I think that's a false choice, and when we pit kids and taxpayers against each other, it's Wisconsin that loses.

There is no reason why we cannot resolve this tension. And we need to start with this simple premise - property taxpayers in this state have done their part.

At the same time, we must also uphold the basic Wisconsin value that says every child deserves a great education.

That's why in my budget, I made school funding the priority so that schools could get the support they needed from the state without having to raise property taxes on local homeowners. My budget freezes property taxes - but it does it in a way that protects our schools.

To fund that increase for schools without forcing communities to raise property taxes, I made tough choices. I cut $270 million in government overhead, and eliminated 1,800 positions from the state payroll. My administration is renegotiating contracts and making government more efficient. We're even selling off state planes and cars, so that tax money is spent more wisely, on priorities like education.

Unfortunately, the Legislature has a different set of priorities. And that's bad news for schools and property taxpayers alike.

In March, the Legislature held hearings to get feedback from the public as they prepared to write their version of the budget. Hundreds of people drove to Watertown, Sheboygan, and other communities to voice their concerns about state support for our schools, and rising taxes.

Citizens told Legislative leaders that education - K-12 to the UW System - needed to be a priority. However, the way the budget was written and passed by Republicans in the Legislature - you would think they weren't even there.

Republicans offered a budget that shortchanges education. Instead of funding schools, Republicans spent millions on special interests and earmarked even more pork spending projects in their own districts. And when they were done with all this special interest spending, all they had left for education was enough for just over a one percent increase.

We know in this day and age that one percent just isn't enough to keep up with the cost of living. Look at what's happening with gas prices. One percent won't even meet the extra cost of putting gas in the buses or heating the buildings, let alone new textbooks and the cost of salaries.

The result will be that once again, schools and property taxpayers will be pitted against each other. Unless citizens agree to yet another property tax increase, schools will be forced to raise class sizes, cut programs like art, music, and athletics, and lay-off teachers. In fact, one study estimates that without an increase in property taxes, the Republican budget would cause up to 5,000 teacher lay-offs.

My budget provided a modest increase for schools - about three percent a year - enough to help deal with the rising costs without having to cut vital education programs. It gave the same level of increase allowed by law over the past decade, by both Democratic and Republican Governors. My budget included enough money so that the state would pay for these increases over the next two years, so that local property taxes could be frozen.

The Legislature knows it costs more to do business. They increased spending for state government by about five percent, but they are asking schools to live with one percent. They've just got their priorities all mixed up.

But true to the spirit of Wisconsin, the question I heard most from citizens at these town hall meetings was what they could do to help stop these education cuts from happening.

Call your Senators. Tell them that Wisconsin wants a budget that freezes property taxes without hurting education.

As this process moves forward, I'm going to keep fighting and use every power I have to make sure that we can get a reasonable cost of living increase for our schools ... and a real property tax freeze. If we are just willing to say "no" to the special interests and get rid of all this pork spending, there is no reason we can't do both.

Press release
Monday, June 27, 2005

Posted by Ruth Robarts at 3:49 PM

Letter from Joe Quick, MMSD Legislative Liaison, to Madison Board of Education

BOE Members:

I saw a shocking number this week and thought it merited some scrutiny. According to Stan Johnson, WEAC president, the state's Transportation budget (defined as road construction and maintenance, according to the Leg. Fiscal Bureau) increases 18% under the GOP's budget (passed by the Assembly, awaiting action in the Senate).

I talked to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau analyst who deals with transportation issues to check the accuracy. He said Johnson's number includes $213 million in bonding authority for the Marquette Interchange in Milw. that the Legislature will, in all likelihood, NOT use. But he did say that with the $213M, the transportation budget DOES increase 18% (using 04-05 as the "base year" and doubling it for the 2 yrs. of the biennium). However, if you TAKE OUT the $213 M in bonding, the transportation budget still increases 8.1%. You can effectively contrast EITHER number with a 1.4% increase for K-12 (spending increase authority via $125 per pupil revenue limit increase) and a 1% increase for the 06-07 school year (a $100 per pupil increase). According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, inflation is rising about 3.5% with energy costs over the same period (Apr. 04-April 05) running OVER 17%. Oh, and the $458 million "historic" increase the GOP is touting over 90% is for property tax relief, money that school districts NEVER SPEND FOR PROGRAMS, CLASS SIZE REDUCTION, ETC. the rest (< 10%) is categorical aid. The only spending increases districts can make is through the per pupil increase in the revenue limit allowance. You can decide for yourselves what you believe to be the GOP's priorities.

Joe Quick
June 23, 2005

Posted by Ruth Robarts at 10:31 AM

June 23, 2005

Goals for Legislative Committee: 2005-06

At the first meeting of the Legislative Committee’s for 2005-06, I will ask the committee to review a plan of action for the year. I hope that we can meet with Dane County legislative representatives soon after we approve a plan. Their viewpoints should help us decide how to proceed.

In view of the Joint Finance Committee’s recommendations for the proposed biennial state budget, we must focus on the most promising strategies for reversing reductions in state support for K-12 schools. I have asked Joe Quick, the MMSD staff for the committee and longtime legislative liaison for the district, to help us get started by outlining a possible plan. I will review and revise the plan before presenting it to the committee.

Although I do not have Joe Quick’s experience with K-12 legislation, I served as the legislative lobbyist for a statewide healthcare union for many years and have previously served on the Legislative Committee as a citizen and member of the Board of Education. I look forward to working with the committee which includes citizen and Board members who also have prior experience working with the state legislature.

On June 11, I sent the following memo to Joe Quick.

Carol Carstensen appointed me to chair the Legislative Committee and communicated her goal for us to use the committee “more effectively”. I am trying to envision how the committee could become more effective.

I am asking for your guidance and ideas as staff. I believe that the committee should set its goals for the year only after it has the benefit of your advice and experience. I will convene the committee after you have drafted an outline for our consideration that answers these questions.

What should be our core message to the legislature and other advocates?

What should be our calendar for meetings and activities?

What resources will we need to convey our messages effectively?

What will be the role of staff and what should be the role of Legislative Committee members and Board members?

What should be our plan for building media support for our messages?

What barriers should we expect? (opposition from allies, positions of legislative majority, disconnect between MMSD calendar and legislative calendar, limits on the capacity of the Legislative Committee and Board of Education to commit time necessary for statewide organizing efforts???)

I am looking for a realistic and concrete plan for the next year of the Legislative Committee.

Thank you. Ruth

Posted by Ruth Robarts at 5:39 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005

June 21 Dept of Admin memo on per-student revenue

Compares Joint Finance and Governor's proposals and addresses issue of whether the JFC version represents a cut.

Posted by Lucy Mathiak at 8:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

June 20 paper on potential changes to revenue limits

This June 20, 2005 document is on-line in PDF format at:

In response to a number of legislative inquiries, this memorandum provides information on
the potential changes to revenue limits for school districts, compared to the 2004-05 base year,
under AB 100 as proposed by the Governor and the Joint Finance version of the budget.

Posted by Lucy Mathiak at 3:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2005

JUNE 17, MMSD asks PTOs and Presumably Parents to Contact Legislators


If you have already received this Update, our apologies. We are trying to inform parents about this important budget issue before the Legislature votes next week.

Dear PTO/A Leaders:

The attached information outlines changes Republican leaders made to Gov. Doyle's budget. Please take a moment to call Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz and Assembly Speaker John Gard (contact information in news update) to express your opposition to cutting back on the allowable per pupil revenue limit increase. Gov. Doyle's budget allows a $248 per pupil increase for next school year, the GOP plan, $120 (would require an additional $3.1 million cut to the budget BEFORE it is finalized this October); for the 06-07 school year, the Gov. allows an increase of $252 per pupil, the GOP plan $100 per pupil (would require MMSD to cut $6.9 million in 06-07).

As you know, under current law the district had to cut $8.6 million this year; the GOP proposal adds another $3.1 million. For the 2006-07 school year, again, under current law, the district estimates that the "revenue cap gap" to offer a "same services" budget will be about $7 million; the GOP plan would double that estimate and require a $14 million cut for the 06-07 school year in order to comply with state-imposed revenue limits.

In your contact, talk about what cuts you've ALREADY seen at your child's school. If you have questions, or want more information, please contact me at 663-1902 or via e-mail

Thanks for your interest, and help -- Joe Quick, Legislative Liaison, Madison Schools.


Number 4, June 13, 2005

GOP guts Doyle’s education budget
JFC proposes revenue limit increase below inflation

Republican legislative leaders touted an “historic increase in school aids,” but they decimated Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget proposal to have the state pick up two-thirds of the total cost of K-12 education in Wisconsin, and they offered only a 1.4% increase on the per pupil revenue limit increase as the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), on an 11-5 vote, finished its work on the 2005-07 biennial budget. The bill now moves to the Assembly.

In a late-afternoon news conference Doyle said the Republican budget was one of the largest cuts to K-12 education in decades. "We are now seeing the results of making education the last priority on their agenda. By the time they got around to education, there was no money left to support our schools. Quite simply, their budget is a cruel hoax on schools and property taxpayers. I will use every power at my disposal to make sure that we get a budget that is fair to both property taxpayers and our schools."

The reduction in the allowable per pupil revenue limit increase could be devastating to the state’s schools. The Department of Public Instruction estimates that the reduction to $120 per pupil increase for 2005-06 (from $248 per current law) and to $100 per pupil increase (from an estimated $252 per student) in 2006-07 would be a loss of $350 million in resources for Wisconsin’s schools.

For Madison, the Governor’s budget office estimated that another $3.1 million would have to be cut by October for 05-06(on top of the $8.6 million already cut) and an additional $7 million for 2006-07. The district estimates that under current law, the “revenue cap gap” in 2006-07 would be about $7 million, so the GOP proposal would translate into a $14 million cut that school year.

The allowable increase in revenue limit authority proposed by the GOP would be a 1.4% increase. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Web site, for the period of April 2004 through April 2005, the Consumer Price Index is running at about 3.5% - with energy costs up 17.1% for the same period.

Please take a moment to contact Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) at 266-0703, or via e-mail and Speaker John Gard (R-Peshtigo) 266-3387, Urge them to restore the allowable revenue limit increase to current law ($248 in 05-06 and $252 in 06-07) and to fund two-thirds of education to relieve the burden of the local property tax payers and to benefit our state’s children. Tell them about the cuts that have hurt your school and classroom.

The following is a brief outline of the key K-12 provisions in the JFC’s budget version.

State Equalization Aid - Increase state equalization aid by $141.4 million
in 2005-06 and $230.2 million in 2006-07, but reduces Governor Doyle's proposed increase by $328.4 million.

Revenue Limits - Reduces the revenue limit per pupil adjustment to $120 in
2005-06 and $100 in 2006-07 and thereafter. Current law, proposed by the Governor, is $248 per pupil in 2005-06 and $252 in 2006-07.

Special Education Categorical Aid - Provides a $12 million increase in 2006-07. Allows guidance counselor and school nurse services to be eligible for reimbursement.

Low-incidence/High Cost Special Education Initiative - Adopts Doyle proposal to create a categorical aid program in 2006-07 to provide $3.5 million to reimburse 90 percent of costs over $30,000 per special education student - an estimated $1.4 million for MMSD.

Bilingual-Bicultural Education Aid - Increases aid by $2.4 million over the biennium, enough to keep the reimbursement ratio at its current level of 12%.

SAGE - Provides $6.14 million over the biennium to fully fund estimated SAGE
enrollments under current law. Allows participating school districts to opt-out of SAGE for grades 2, 3, or both years. Any unexpended portion of the SAGE appropriation would
lapse to the general fund at the end of each year.

Four-Year-Old Kindergarten - Maintains current level of state funding. Deletes
Doyle’s K4 $3 million start-up grant.

Declining Enrollment Districts - Deletes the Governor's recommendation to
allow districts to set revenue limits at the greater amount determined by using either a 3-year or 5-year rolling average of pupil enrollment.

School Breakfast - Deletes the Governor's recommended $1.3 million increase over the
biennium to increase the reimbursement from 10 to 15 cents to districts that offer breakfast (estimated loss of $25,000 for MMSD).

GOP leaders say they are on track to send the budget to the governor by late-June or early July. However, rumors swirled at the Capitol that the Senate may not have the 17 votes necessary to pass the bill. Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay), a JFC member, was the only Republican to vote against the bill. The GOP has 19 senators, so only two Republican senators could oppose the budget and allow the bill’s passage. When the bill does get to the Governor, he will have wide veto latitude to improve the bill, or delete provisions.

Posted by Lucy Mathiak at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

June 2, 2005

Relevant Committees and Members 2005-2006


Education, Committee on
Representatives Towns, chairperson, Kestell, vice chairperson
Representatives Nass, Hundertmark, Townsend, Hines, Davis, J. Lehman, A. Williams, Ziegelbauer, Pope-Roberts, and Van Akkeren

Education Reform, Committee on

Representatives Vukmir, chairperson, Nass vice chairperson
Representatives Towns, J. Wood, Nischke, Pridemore, Sinicki, A. Williams and J. Lehman


Education, Committee on
Senator Olsen, chairperson
Senators Darling, Harsdorf, Grothman, Jauch, Erpenbach, and Hansen


Audit, Joint Committee on

Representative Jeskewitz and Senator Roessler, cochairpersons
Representatives Kaufert, Kerkman, Travis and Cullen; Senators Cowles, S. Fitzgerald, Miller, and Lassa

Finance, Joint Committee on
Representative Kaufert and Senator S. Fitzgerald, cochairpersons
Representatives Ward, Stone, Jensen, Rhoades, D. Meyer, Colón, and Pocan; Senators Lazich, Darling, Cowles, Leibham, Olsen, Decker, and Taylor

Posted by Lucy Mathiak at 9:29 AM | Comments (0)

June 1, 2005

2004-2005 Estimated State Support for School Districts

Dated April 1, 2005

In response to requests from a number of legislators, this office [Legislative Fiscal Bureau] has prepared information on the estimated level of state support provided to individual school districts and K-12 education statewide in 2004-05, including attachments displaying the estimated level of state support, by school district, for the 2004-05 school year.

For the 44-page document, go to:

Posted by Lucy Mathiak at 2:37 PM | Comments (0)

Joint Finance Committee May 31-June 1, 2005

Portion of the Agenda Related to DPI/School Finance


TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2005 (1:00 P.M.) AND WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2005 (11:00 A.M.)

The Joint Committee on Finance will meet in Executive Session on Tuesday, May 31, 2005, at 1:00 p.m. and Wednesday, June 1, 2005, at 11:00 a.m. on the 2005-07 biennial budget. The meeting will be held in Room 412 East, State Capitol. The Executive Sessions will be held on the budgets of the following agencies:

Public Instruction
• General School Aids and Revenue Limits
• Categorical Aids
• Choice and Charter
• Administrative and Other Funding

NOTE: Related May 25, 2005 papers are linked from document posted under "Policy Papers - LFB."

Posted by Lucy Mathiak at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

Legislative Fiscal Bureau Papers Published May 25

NOTE: Papers are in PDF format

Public Instruction -- General School Aids and Revenue Limits

595 General School Aids Funding Level

596 General School Aid Appropriation for Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Project Revenue

597 Equalization Aid Formula

598 Revenue Limit Enrollment Average

599 Low-Revenue Ceiling

600 Carryover of Unused Revenue Limit Authority

601 School Levy Tax Credit

Back Sheet NOTE: reference to repealing QEO legislation.

Public Instruction -- Categorical Aids

605 Student Achievement Guarantee in Education Program

606 SAGE Debt Service Aid

607 Pupil Transportation Rates

608 Special Education Aids

609 Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Grants

610 Grants for Mentors

611 Bilingual-Bicultural Education Aids

612 Grants for Differentiated Teacher Compensation Programs

613 School Breakfast

614 Charter School and State Residential School Eligibility for State Lunch Aid

615 Advanced Placement and Gifted and Talented Grants

616 Grants Funded from Tribal Gaming Revenues

Back Sheet

Public Instruction -- Choice and Charter

625 Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and Milwaukee and Racine Charter School Program Payment Amounts

626 Milwaukee and Racine Charter School Program Funding

627 Charter School Payment to Racine Unified School District

Public Instruction -- Administrative and Other Funding

630 Universal Service Fund Allocations for Public Library Aids

631 Grants for Master Educators and National Teacher Certification Reestimate

632 Adult Literacy Grants

Back Sheet

Posted by Lucy Mathiak at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)