Education spending increase isn’tWisconsin residents and public school leaders learned some of the details of Gov. Scott Walker’s education budget. At first, it seemed like good news for our public schools.
By: By the School Finance Network, Superior Telegram
Wisconsin residents and public school leaders learned some of the details of Gov. Scott Walker’s education budget. At first, it seemed like good news for our public schools.
According to what he released to the media before his budget address, the governor suggested that his budget would increase public education spending in Wisconsin by over $476 million. Unfortunately, what the governor is recommending does not increase public school spending at all — in fact, it freezes it.
There is some key information Wisconsin residents need to know to sort out the facts.
Wisconsin public schools fall under a revenue cap, or restrictions on the amount of money they can raise and spend. This cap is adjusted every year — or should be — to account for inflation. The governor’s budget does not increase the revenue cap.
What this means is that even though the governor is saying he is increasing education spending, most of this new money will not go to schools. Instead, the vast majority of it will go to taxpayers in the form of tax relief.
This enables the governor to claim he is both “increasing education spending” and “providing tax relief” with the same money. In introducing this budget, the governor is expecting parents and other community members to fall for this political sleight of hand. He is also expecting us to forget what has happened in the past.
We must remember that in his last budget, Governor Walker cut more than $800 million from public education —the largest cut in our state’s history. For perspective, it is worth noting that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report that ranked Wisconsin among the top four states to have cut the most education dollars per student.
Wisconsin public school districts are still reeling from cuts in staff and programs, not to mention larger class sizes. But at the same time that he continues to oversee the systematic underfunding of public schools, Walker seeks to expand private voucher schools.
In his latest budget, the governor wants to increase funding for private school vouchers by $600 per K-8 student and $1,400 per high school student. He suggests the expansion of private voucher schools that have little to no accountability and that do not result in higher levels of achievement for students. The expansion of the private voucher program is, by every measure, an effort to privatize education in Wisconsin.
As public education leaders, we are committed to saving our public schools. Telling the truth about the governor’s budget is a great place to start.
Let’s call Governor Walker’s budget what it is — an assault on Wisconsin’s public schools.
This article is sponsored by the School Finance Network, a coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to finding a better way to fund Wisconsin public schools. The School Finance Network is made up of the following groups: AFT-Wisconsin, the Fair Aid Coalition, the School Administrators Alliance, the Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance, the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, and the Wisconsin PTA.