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Recent state and federal moves on e-rate funds raise caution flags

Among other state budget actions, the Joint Finance Committee voted along party-lines last week to transfer $22 million in federal e-rate funds (which are meant to support telecommunications services in schools and libraries–the “e” in e-rate stands for “education”) in each year of the budget to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The amount transferred is $19.8 million more than what the Governor’s budget had proposed.

While this may be viewed by some as good news for rural areas that currently lack adequate broadband (high-speed internet) connections, it could spell concerns for schools and libraries in the future. (more…)

JFC finishes work on state budget

The legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee (JFC) finished its work on the 2019-21 state budget on June 13.  The budget now heads to each house of the state legislature–Assembly first, then Senate–for consideration before heading to Gov. Evers.

The Assembly plans to take up the budget on Tuesday, June 25 with the Senate following on the 26th or 27th according to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in a press conference touting the JFC proposal. (more…)

JFC-approved transportation budget dips further into state’s general fund

Last night, the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) passed a transportation budget plan to boost state transportation spending by $483.7 million over the next two fiscal years.

The JFC-approved plan relies in part on increases to title and registration fees and a $90 million transfer from the state’s general fund.  That transfer is a departure from historical practices and deserves attention. (more…)

Updated WASB Budget Chart posted

The WASB Budget Chart has been updated to detail the actions taken to date by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC)  on K-12 education-related provisions in the  proposed  2019-21 state budget. You can find the chart here.

For each budget item, the chart describes the proposal at each stage in the process and the dollar amounts attached to it.  In separate columns, the chart shows the DPI budget request, if any, the governor’s proposal, if any, and the JFC action on each item. (more…)

JFC action ups voucher payments, open enrollment transfer amounts

While increases in allowable spending for nearly all public schools will be capped at $200 per pupil in 2019-20 and $204 per pupil in 2020-21,  private schools that participate in the state’s voucher programs will see their voucher payments increase by an estimated $229 per pupil in 2019-20 and an estimated $275 per pupil in 2020-21 under the omnibus K-12 education budget motion adopted by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) on May 23.

The JFC rejected the governor’s proposal to limit annual adjustments in voucher payments to the combination of the per pupil increase, if any, in revenue limits in that school year and in the per pupil increase in per pupil categorical aid paid to school districts between the previous school year and the current school year.  Under that proposal, the increase in voucher payments would have been limited to the same $200 and $204 per pupil increases public schools will receive. (more…)