May 28, 2021

  

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Joint Finance Committee K-12 Funding Update

This week, the Joint Finance Committee met to work on a number of budget items in the K-12 funding section. Prior to the pandemic, state school aid was at historic levels. Now, federal Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds far exceed traditional state support dwarfing the significant increases legislative Republicans and Governor Evers approved in the last budget. 

Here are a few of the significant K-12 provisions included in the JFC budget that they worked on this week, including my high cost transportation aid provision:

  • Increase the reimbursement to districts with average transportation costs over 140% of the statewide average and with fewer than 3,500 pupils. 
  • Increase the per pupil transportation reimbursement from $365 to $375 per pupil.
  • Guarantees a minimum of $781 per pupil to all school districts if the schools were in person more than 50% of the 2020-21 school year.
  • Sets aside $350 million to maintain education funding stability in the future.
  • Increases Special Education Categorical Aids by nearly 10% or by $86 million to 30% of eligible costs - the highest dollar levels ever.
  • Doubles Mental Health Categorical Aids by providing an additional $12 million.
  • Provides $7 million for school-based mental health collaboration grants – a 54% increase, which meets the Governor’s proposal.
  • Increases sparsity aid by $6.3 million and expands eligibility.
Crandon Rocks Grant Presentation

As I mentioned in my last e-update, a number of tourism events received grants from the Department of Tourism recently. While I unfortunately wasn't able to attend the grant presentations, I'm pleased to share a picture from the presentation for Crandon Rocks Labor Day Weekend. The grant from the Department of Tourism for $39,550 will be used to market the five-day event held September 1-5. Congratulations and here's hoping to a good turnout this fall!

Question of the Week: 
UW-System COVID-19 Test & Vaccine Policy

A new bill was recently introduced this month addressing a concern with a UW-System policy that has been raised among many parents and college students. The policy requires mandated COVID-19 testing for UW students unless they show proof of vaccination. For some, it has raised concerns that it invades student's medical privacy. However, other's feel that it is a way that the college can help protect the health and safety of their students, staff and faculty on campus and get back to normal as soon as possible. 

In light of this new UW policy, a bill was introduced that would prohibit the UW System and technical colleges from requiring current or prospective students from being tested for COVID-19 or vaccinated against it in order to attend classes on campus. The bill would return the vaccination and testing decisions back to the individual students instead of allowing the colleges to make those medical decisions.

Looking back on the challenges and risks caused by COVID-19 this past year, figuring out how we will deal with it in the coming months, particularly in relation to college education, is a big issue for our state, so I'd like to hear your thoughts on this proposed bill. Please take a moment to answer my question of the week:

Click here for my Question of the Week

Last Week's Results:
UW System Tuition & Fee Freeze

I heard from many around the 36th Assembly District on last week's question of the week. The below chart represents the responses from constituents to the question that I received as of yesterday afternoon.

Budget Survey Available Online

The paper version of my budget survey is heading to mailboxes soon. I've heard from a number of folks already, and if you would like to fill out the survey early you can find it online on my webpage:

36th Assembly District Online Budget Survey

Request Unemployment Inquiry

With the high number of unemployment claims being filed in Wisconsin and nationwide in recent months, delays in determinations and payments have been a too common occurrence. As a legislator, I'm able to reach out to DWD and make an inquiry on your behalf if you are experiencing issues or delays with your unemployment claim.

Click here to request an Unemployment Claim Inquiry

Broadband Infrastructure Grant Notice

I'm excited to share a new broadband grant opportunity for our communities. The US Commerce Department's National Telecommunication's and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that $288 million in grant funding is available for deploying broadband infrastructure. The program allows states and localities to partner with providers to target the funding towards areas where it's most needed.

More information about the program, including requirements for applications, can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity on grants.gov. NTIA is also hosting a number of webinars to share information on the program. The next Broadband Infrastructure webinars will be on June 9 and 10. 

COVID-19 Quick Links

Below are some quick links to essential COVID-19 resources and information:

Follow the Legislative Action

In order to stay up to date on any legislation, proposals, or your legislator, a free notification service is available through the Wisconsin State Legislature's website. You can sign up for nightly personalized email notifications based on our state's legislative activity. This is a wonderful way to stay informed about state politics and proposals that you are interested in.