The Assembly Republicans and Governor Walker have released plans that call for additional support for our PK-12 public school systems in the next biennial budget. Members of the Wisconsin Association of Equity in Funding (WAEF) applaud the change in direction from past budget decisions that included significant funding cuts and minimal increases (far below the cost of inflation) for PK-12 public schools.
WAEF members believe our lawmakers have heard the voice of the citizens of the state and have agreed that PK-12 public schools need additional funding support from Madison. We strongly endorse the Governor’s proposal to increase per student categorical funding of $200 per student in the first year and an additional increase of $204 in the second year. We encourage Governor Walker to continue to advocate for this increase and secure these funds in the final budget.
WAEF has reviewed the Assembly Republicans proposed PK-12 education funding plan, and support the effort to create greater equity by allowing low spending districts the authority to increase their revenue limit to $9,800 per student. While the increased low spending revenue cap authority is a great move to help school districts, we are concerned that this increased revenue is a shift to property owners and in many property poor school districts this would be a significant burden through large increases in the mill rates.
WAEF proposes for consideration that the Governor and legislators consider supporting a plan that would achieve the $200 and $204 increases as well as the Assembly Republican’s plan to increase the low spending revenue cap floor at $9,800 per student. Both plans could be accomplished by shifting a portion of the property tax levy credit to the school districts that are the lowest spending districts in the state. This shift could be easily done.
Both the Governor’s and the Assembly Republicans’ proposals call for increase in funding the property tax levy credit. If the Governor and the Legislature are truly committed to property tax relief, they should provide that relief to the school districts that need it the most. The property tax levy credit is the mechanism that would accomplish all the goals of the Governor as well as those in the recently released proposal of the Republican Assembly.