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GOP legislators circulate a proposal to allow an earlier school start date

Sens. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville, pictured) and Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) and Rep. Amy Binsfeld (R-Sheboygan) recently proposed LRB-1594 that would allow school districts to start school prior to September 1st. Under current law, public schools are prohibited from starting instruction prior to Sept. 1st unless granted an exception from DPI due to extraordinary circumstances. Unlike previous proposals, which would have entirely repealed the statute requiring school to commence no earlier than Sept. 1st, this proposal would allow school districts to start school as early as the Monday prior to Labor Day. If a school district does decide to start prior to Labor Day, the Friday before Labor Day would be designated as a non-instructional day in order to accommodate travel plans often taken over this holiday weekend.
Attempts at full repeal have been opposed by the tourism industry and been unsuccessful in the legislature in past sessions. We appreciate and support the attempt by Sens. Stroebel, Knodl and Rep. Binsfeld to find middle ground on the issue and give school districts additional flexibility.


Bill that eliminates restrictions on low revenue ceiling is officially introduced in the Senate

On August 25th, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced SB 395 which would eliminate the statutory restrictions on the low revenue ceiling. These restrictions currently freeze low-spending school districts that failed an operational referendum from utilizing increases in the low revenue ceiling for three years. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Education, which has yet to schedule a hearing on the matter. The bill was authored by Sen. Testin and Rep. Green and has gained support from a number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers. WASB applauds the efforts by Sen. Testin, Rep. Green, and all the lawmakers that have signed on to this bill. PLEASE contact your state legislators and urge them to support SB-395. (more…)

Republican lawmakers roll out a new $2.9 billion tax cut package

Republican lawmakers this week unveiled a new tax cut plan, with an estimated $2.9 billion in cuts. This new plan was crafted in response to previous tax cut proposals being vetoed by Governor Tony Evers in the 2023-2025 state budget. The proposed cuts are aimed at the third-highest tax bracket ($36,840-$405,550 for married couples, or $27,630 and $304,170 filing independently) and would decrease rates from 5.3% to 4.4%. The plan would also increase the amount of income received from retirement accounts that can be subtracted from a filer’s taxable income. The state will have a projected $4 billion budget surplus after the current state budget expires in 2025, and this tax plan is being framed as a way to return a sizeable portion of this money to Wisconsinites.

In addition to the proposed tax cuts, republican lawmakers have also proposed a new constitutional amendment that would require a 2/3rds supermajority to increase taxes in the future. This amendment would need to pass back-to-back legislative session before it can go on the ballot for a statewide referendum. (more…)

WASB Supports Financial Transparency for All Taxpayer-Supported Schools

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards has concerns that a proposed school finance dashboard may exclude data on private schools that directly impacts public school district budgets and taxpayers.

2021 Wisconsin Act 89 requires the Department of Public Instruction to create an online portal that displays financial data for public schools, including independent charter schools. The WASB supported the legislation that became 2021 Act 89 to provide the public with transparency in school budgeting.

School district funding and finances are complex, and creating a user-friendly, simple portal for the public is no easy task. To accomplish this, the act created an 11-person advisory committee to advise DPI on the portal’s development, including recommendations on what information would be featured. The committee was made up of six Republican appointees, three Democratic appointees and two appointees by State Superintendent Jill Underly. The committee included state Sens. Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) and Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville). (more…)

New online dashboard on school district finances is stalled after opposition to the inclusion of private school data

Act 89 in 2021 requires DPI to create a new online dashboard to provide public school district finances in a more user-friendly and transparent format for the public. The act also requires DPI to follow recommendations from a bipartisan advisory committee and submit the committee’s recommendations to the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) for approval. An anonymous member of the JFC objected to the proposal after the “Wisconsin Coalition for Education Freedom” submitted negative feedback due to the inclusion of financial data related to private schools. (more…)