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Extraordinary session passes bill requiring settlement funds to be deposited in the general fund and not the common school fund

The package of legislation passed early the morning of Dec 5 in extraordinary session by the Wisconsin Legislature contains the language that would require that the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) to deposit all settlement funds into the general fund and further, that all unencumbered settlement funds that are currently in the DOJ appropriation would lapse into the general fund.

WASB and others asked lawmakers to remove that language based on our view that those funds are arguably constitutionally required to be deposited into the common school fund established by Wisconsin’s original state constitution.  Read more on our position here.  WASB is asking Governor Scott Walker to veto the bill that contained these provisions. See our veto letter here.

No K-12 legislation being publicly discussed for extraordinary session…yet

The GOP-controlled legislature is planning an extraordinary session to pass legislation while Gov. Scott Walker still holds office and before Gov-elect Tony Evers takes office on January 7, 2019.  This could happen as soon as the week of Dec 3.

According to media reports (see: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal), several items are being discussed for the session: (more…)

MU Law Poll: K-12 still a top issue for voters; governor race a dead heat

The newest Marquette University Law School Poll was released by Prof. Charles Franklin on October 31 and it included an array of questions on various election and other issues.  This poll asked more K-12 related questions than previous polls including questions on teacher pay and priorities for increasing student achievement.

K-12 education once again featured as a top issue for likely voters: (more…)

Both candidates for Governor pledge to return to state funding 2/3 of K-12 costs

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,  Gov. Scott Walker has pledged to restore the state’s commitment to cover two-thirds of school costs  without raising property taxes. State Supt. Tony Evers, the Democratic challenger, promised the same when he released his education plan.

Two-thirds funding was a commitment established in state law in 1993 to reduce the burden on property taxes.  This commitment was repealed in the 2003-05 state budget.  In December 2017, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) estimated that state support in the 2017-18 school year would be 64.8%.  With no per pupil adjustment to revenue limits and an infusion of per pupil categorical aid ($190 million) from the state and a modest increase in state general aid ($73 million), the percentage was projected by the LFB to increase to 65.8% in 2018-19.

It should be noted that returning to the state providing two-thirds funding alone does not necessarily mean additional resources for school districts.  The way two-thirds funding is calculated, all of the increase from the state could go into levy credits, which would reduce property tax bills but would not increase school budgets one dime.  Or if general aids are increased but revenue limits are not adjusted, it could simply mean a higher percentage of that capped amount would come from the state and the percentage from property taxes would decrease correspondingly.

Gov. Walker announces $3.6 million in dual enrollment grants

From the Governor’s Office:

“Governor Scott Walker today announced $3.6 million in Dual Enrollment Fast Forward grants will be awarded to 14 technical schools to help students across the state at 209 school districts. The Governor made the announcement at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau…

“…Fast Forward Dual Enrollment Grants are provided by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The grants will allow high school teachers to gain the same level of certification in their relevant subject area as instructors at their local technical college.  This will allow those teachers to provide high school students the opportunity to dual enroll in college programs while still in high school without paying tuition prices.

“A full list of the grants awarded is available here. “