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March 5, 2012

Survey: Wisconsin Residents Believe K-12 Per Student Spending is $6,000, less than half of Reality

George Lightbourn:

And they were right; the public really did not understand the state budget. When our pollster asked what was the largest expenditure in the state budget (school aids at 40% dwarfs everything else), 70% of the people guessed wrong.

And when we asked them how much was spent in Wisconsin's K-12 schools, the average guess - $6,000 per student - was less than half of what it actually was.

However, while the public might not understand the specifics of the budget, they seem to get the big picture.

Looking at that big picture, we see that Wisconsin is feeling considerably better about the management of state finance today than a couple of years ago. Let's look at what the polls said.
Leading up to the last election for governor, our pollster asked if the public thought the elected leaders in Madison were, "capable of solving the state budget deficit." Only 23% said they did. 59% of those same citizens told our pollster that they saw the state budget as a big problem.

What a disconnect. It's not often that you can actually measure public cynicism, but that is exactly what that poll did. It is ironic that he cause for the cynicism was the very political leaders who were counting on the public on being too dim to understand what was really going on in the budget?

Now, after Governor Walker and the Legislature have rather famously - some would say infamously - balanced the state budget, how is the public feeling? We asked about that last October when 41% of the public said that they actually thought the budget - a budget that included numerous cuts - would actually improve the future quality of life in Wisconsin. This level of approval is surprising given that most people - even Republicans - tend to get weak in the knees when it comes to spending cuts.

Locally, Madison will spend $14,858.40 / student during the 2011-2012 school year. The 2011-2012 budget is roughly $369,394,753 for 24,861 students.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at March 5, 2012 2:52 AM
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