Wisconsin Governor Proposes 10% K-12 Tax & Spending increase over the next two years

Bethany Blankely:

“Will massive increases in spending actually improve student outcomes?” WILL asks. According to an analysis of education spending and outcomes, WILL says, “probably not.”

WILL’s Truth in Spending: An Analysis of K-12 Spending in Wisconsin compares K-12 spending on Wisconsin public schools and student outcomes. Based on the most recent available data, Wisconsin’s K-12 education spending is comparable to the rest of the country, but it already spends more money, on average, than the majority of states, according to the report. Wisconsin spends $600 per pupil more than the median state spends.

Based on WILL’s econometric analysis, no relationship between higher spending and outcomes exists in Wisconsin. On average, high-spending districts perform the same or worse on state-mandated exams and the ACT relative to low-spending districts, the analysis found.

Slinger and Hartford school districts spend significantly less than the state average on education but their students’ Forward Exam performances are significantly higher than other districts, the report found. By comparison, White Lake and Bayfield districts have “woeful proficiency rates despite spending far more than the average district,” the report states.

In Evers’ budget address, he said, “more than one million Wisconsinites have raised their own property taxes to support local schools in their communities,” Matt Kittle at the MacIver Institute notes. “But they chose to do so,” Kittle says, “through the mechanism of referendum that offers school districts the ability to set their own priorities and not make taxpayers elsewhere pick up an ever-increasing portion of the tab.”

Evers’ budget plan calls for a return to the state picking up two-thirds of K-12 funding, but would put more money into the state’s long-failing schools, Kittle notes, “while he looks to punish Wisconsin’s school choice program.”

This is counterintuitive to the facts, WILL argues, as private choice schools and charter schools in Wisconsin achieve more with less. According to recent analysis, these schools achieve better academic outcomes despite spending thousands less per student than traditional public schools.

Madison spends far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20,000 per student.

Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”