Gov. Scott Walker will propose a modest increase in funding for Wisconsin public schools in his budget to the Legislature on Wednesday, two years after his steep cuts and all but elimination of collective bargaining for teachers sparked the unsuccessful movement to recall Walker from office.
Walker is also making incentive money available, which could be used as incentive payments for teachers based on how well schools perform on state report cards, Walker told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.
Walker provided details of his education funding plan to the AP ahead of its public release Sunday. Not only will he put more money into K-12 schools in his two-year budget, Walker will increase funding for the University of Wisconsin System and technical colleges two years after their funding was also slashed.
The roughly 1 percent increase in aid to schools Walker is proposing comes after he cut aid by more than 8 percent in the first year of the last budget. Schools would get $129 million in aid under Walker’s plan, but total K-12 funding would go up $276 million
Related: Wisconsin State Tax Based K-12 Spending Growth Far Exceeds University Funding (2008).
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to propose modest increase in public school funding by Erin Richards & Scott Bauer::
Tom Beebe, project director for Opportunity to Learn Wisconsin, a liberal-leaning group and former executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, has been critical of Walker’s cuts to education.
He said the amount of general aid increase proposed for this next biennial budget – $129.2 million over two years – only amounts to about $161 for each of Wisconsin’s 800,000 public-school students.
“If the revenue cap does not go up, then there is no new money going to schools no matter how much aid increases,” Beebe said. “The increase in school funding simply goes to property taxpayers not into the classroom.”
Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, said the modest increase was really just keeping overall revenue for schools flat.
“The stagnant revenue on top of the largest cuts to education funding in Wisconsin history in the last budget is another clear indication that this governor has no intention of supporting neighborhood schools,” Bell said in a statement.
“(Walker’s) real focus is privatizing public education with another infusion of resources to the unaccountable taxpayer-funded private school voucher program while leaving our neighborhood public schools on life support,” she added.