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The Latest: Committee approves $500 million more for schools

May 23, 2019

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on Wisconsin budget (all times local):

2:27 p.m.

The Republican-controlled Legislature’s budget committee has approved increasing funding for Wisconsin’s K-12 schools by $500 million over two years.

Democrats and Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday that is not enough. Evers proposed a $1.4 billion increase.

The committee voted 11-4 along party lines to approve the $500 million increase, which includes nearly $100 million more for special education. Evers wanted to spend six times that much.

Republicans say this is the most the state can afford and it is their best offer. Evers says it is inadequate and he is optimistic he can work with Republicans to get more money.

In the last budget, schools received a $639 million increase. The battle over education funding is one of the central fights of the state budget, along with Medicaid expansion and transportation funding.


11:40 a.m.

Republican leaders of the Legislature’s budget committee say Gov. Tony Evers should accept their education funding proposal because it’s not going to get any better.

The Joint Finance Committee planned to vote Thursday on a Republican plan to increase K-12 funding by $500 million over two years. Evers wanted $1.4 billion and says the Republican proposal is inadequate.

Committee co-chairman Rep. John Nygren says the Evers proposal was not realistic and was more of a campaign document. He and committee vice chair Sen. Luther Olsen both say it wouldn’t be worth it to veto their plan because it’s not going to change substantially.

Republicans want to spend $100 million more on special education. That is one-sixth of what Evers called for.


11:07 a.m.

Gov. Tony Evers says a Republican K-12 education funding plan that is $900 million less than what he wanted is inadequate.

Evers reacted Thursday on Twitter to news that Republicans planned to approve a $500 million funding increase over two years. Evers proposed $1.4 billion.

Evers says the Republican plan “doesn’t get us where we need to be.” He says “The people of our state want us to fully fund our schools.”

Democrats on the budget committee vowed to fight the funding level, but they don’t have the votes to stop it.

Republicans say it’s all the state can afford. It comes after K-12 funding grew by $639 million in the current budget.

The Joint Finance Committee planned to vote Thursday on the GOP plan as it works to revise the Evers budget.


9:18 a.m.

A lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards says a Republican plan to increase funding for K-12 schools by $500 million is a “mixed bag.”

The Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee plans to approve the increase Thursday. It’s $900 million short of what Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wanted.

School boards lobbyist Dan Rossmiller says under the GOP’s $500 million increase “the typical school district will find a lot of good things” but “that’s not to say that every district will be in great shape.”

He calls it a “mixed bag.”

Democrats oppose the smaller Republican-backed increase, but they don’t have the votes to stop it.

In the current budget, K-12 funding increased by $639 million.


8:17 a.m.

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature have agreed on a $500 million increase in K-12 school funding over the next two years, including $100 million more for special education.

Budget committee member Sen. Luther Olsen tells The Associated Press that Senate and Assembly Republicans reached a deal that will be voted on Thursday.

The deal is the same total funding that Assembly Republicans announced on Wednesday, but the amount going toward special education is twice as much.

Still, it falls $900 million short of what Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed overall and $500 million short for special education.

But Olsen says the deal is “the best we could do.”

Per-pupil funding would increase $200 the first year and $204 the next. Olsen says the goal is to keep property tax increases less than 1 point on average.

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