March 31st, 2011

 

Bad News Budget Day 3: $1.7 Billion Cut From Kids and Classrooms

Road to Privatization of Public Schools Begins in Walker’s Budget

(MADISON) Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee), Senate Ranking Member of the Joint Committee on Finance, heard testimony from education leaders, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Evers, which points to a $1.7 billion dollar cut from public education in Wisconsin along with increasing privatization of the University of Wisconsin System and drastic cuts to the Wisconsin Technical College System. 

“Scott Walker continues the attack on Wisconsin – this time with a full broadside at our children’s future.”  Taylor noted.  “Education is Wisconsin’s number one value and number one budget item.  It’s our constitutional duty to educate children and yet this budget cuts money to provides for smaller class sizes and better academic outcomes.  You can’t use schools to cut your way out of a recession without slashing earning power by our children in the near future.  This budget seriously threatens Wisconsin’s economic future with Walker’s ideological war against all things owned by the people.”

Specifically today, the Joint Committee on Finance discovered the following:

  • Walker eliminates almost $1.7 billion dollars from public education, of which $165 million will come out of Milwaukee Public Schools.  (LFB Memo, )
  • Walker creates the privatization of the University of Wisconsin at Madison,  UW System officials and chancellors responded with an alternative plan of administration.  Republicans appear to be in sharp disagreement about Walker’s plan but support the proposed funding cuts which lead to tuition increases.  (LFB Summary page 459, item 1; page 497) 
  • Walker eliminates tuition reciprocity parity between Minnesota and Wisconsin meaning that Wisconsin students pay Minnesota rates for schooling which is more expensive than Wisconsin. (Walker errata letter, 3/31/11)
  • Walker cuts overall aid to technical colleges by 71 million dollars and limits any local revenue; all of which will limit job training programs that retrains workers for skilled jobs.  (LFB Summary, page 533, item 4 &5)

“This budget is serious about the war on public schools,” Taylor concluded.  “I stand ready to compromise with Republicans on how we deal with education reforms in choice and charter in Milwaukee, but the majority party must drastically change their public schools budget.  Short of that, Wisconsin’s economic brain drain and earning power in the future rests at the GOP’s feet.”

Joint Finance Committee briefings with agencies continue next week along with the beginning of public hearings on the budget.  Taylor and Democrats on the committee are eagerly anticipating hearing from the public on their thoughts about Walker’s budget.