Last week, Rep. Magnafici proclaimed, “This education plan continues the growth in education investment that Wisconsin has committed to over the last decade.”
The facts don’t support this. When adjusted for inflation, public schools are still receiving less in state aid than they were a decade ago, and the legislature’s current K-12 education budget increase ($500 million) is actually less than the increase in former Gov. Walker’s last budget ($639 million). The most pressing example of the LACK of investment in public education by the legislature is Special Education. School districts are mandated by state law to provide these services, but state support for this mandate has been stuck at 25% for over a decade, while the need for and costs of these services has continued to rise. Districts must make up the difference out of their general budgets, which are already strained by reduced state funding.
In a Marquette University poll in January, 73% of the respondents supported a “major increase in special education funding.” Gov. Evers’ budget acknowledges this by proposing a bump to 30% reimbursement in year one of the budget and to 60% in year two. Yet the legislature cut over $500 million just in special education funding from the governor’s budget, which equates to -$740,359 for the Osceola School District. This would make up for 75% of the cuts the District just made due to the April referendum failure.
The legislature’s budget, passed out of committee on a straight party-line vote, proposes increasing special education reimbursement to 26% in year one and 30% in year two. That’s not “major” by any stretch of the imagination. Your annual tax cut under Gov. Evers’ budget? $217. Under the legislature’s budget? $75. We can support our public schools and provide middle class tax cuts at the same time.
Saint Croix Valley Friends of Public Education