Walker, GOP pledge to reform Wisconsin’s approach to school funding

Matthew DeFour

Wisconsin’s next governor has promised big changes for schools and taxpayers – from tying teacher pay raises to performance and giving each school a letter grade to expanding alternatives to public schools and helping school districts cut costs.
But the first challenge facing Republican Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled Legislature next year is closing a $3 billion deficit in the state’s general fund, 44 percent of which covers K-12 education.
“I don’t think anybody is going to, in the short run, be able to solve the budget problems without cutting state funding for K-12,” said Andrew Reschovsky, a UW-Madison economics professor. “The current situation is unsustainable in the long run. There really is a crisis in how we fund schools.”
State Superintendent Tony Evers this week is expected to kick-start the school spending debate by announcing the details of his plan to reform the state’s complex education funding formula. In June, he said his proposal would move away from distributing aid based on property values and take into account factors such as student poverty – a move that could help districts such as Madison with high property wealth but also a lot of poor students.
The state cut $284 million, or 2.6 percent, from school aid in the current budget, resulting in an 8 percent reduction for Madison. The state also reduced the amount districts could increase revenues from $275 per pupil to $200 per pupil, which helped keep a lid on property taxes but forced districts to make budget cuts.

8 thoughts on “Walker, GOP pledge to reform Wisconsin’s approach to school funding”

  1. Scott Walker and GOP are not going to fix public schools and they are not going to create more charters and accountability. They are going to increase vouchers. Get ready to watch the decline and fall of public education in Wisconsin. To think that public education is going to improve under Walker and the GOP is to display stunning naiveté.

  2. Momannonymous: I’ve always wondered about this, so perhaps you can help. Who is richer. A husband and wife who both teach in a small town in Wisconsin with 1 or 2 kids with combined incomes of 110K, or a couple earning 250K in NYC with 4 kids.

  3. Well, I’m not momanonymous, but I’ll bite: It doesn’t matter who is richer–both will be covered by the proposed tax cut extension for all of the first $250,000–that NYC couple will only have what they earn ABOVE the $250,000 subjected to the full taxes. Suggesting that the wealthy wouldn’t be getting tax cuts is disingenuous–everyone gets tax cuts.
    And that couple earning $250,000 in NYC? Probably also getting a bigger deduction for mortgage interest along with the deductions for the extra couple of kids you threw into the equation.
    Incidentally, if that NYC couple has followed the same career path as your small town Wisconsin couple, they won’t be earning a combined income of $250,000. According to the NYC Department of Education:
    “Currently, teachers with the maximum combination of experience and coursework on the salary schedule can earn up to $100,049 per year”.
    Looks like they’re already covered by the proposed tax laws.

  4. Thank you for the explanation. It doesn’t change anything, but I didn’t mean for the NYC couple to be teachers.
    I guess the point I was trying to make, rather poorly, was that “taxing the rich” to solve problems has problems of its own.
    1, The truly rich can hide what they have. 2, The rich don’t have enough to pay for all these problems so eventually making 50K is deemed as rich. ie., someone making 25K thinks 50K is “the rich” 3, Taking a whole pile of money away from a millionaire will not make your life or community better. 4, I never got a job from a poor person.

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