Mursau, Swearingen Secure Federal Funding for Northern Schools

Madison … The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee voted Tuesday to approve a school funding proposal by Representative Jeff Mursau (R – Crivitz) and Representative Rob Swearingen (R – Rhinelander) to provide increased funding for school districts in the Chequamegon-Nicolet national forest. The proposal would annually send 25% of US timber sales in the forest to area schools.

“Over 1.5 million acres of northern Wisconsin are federal forest and unavailable to fund our schools,” Mursau said. “The least we can do is use timber sale income to educate our kids, keep schools open, and keep local employees close to both their workplace and their kid’s schools.”

Under current law, Wisconsin sends national forest income to local townships. Under Mursau and Swearingen’s proposal, town governments will be held whole by a proportional increase in federal payments-in-lieu-of-taxes on a per acre basis.

“Our large northern schools have long bus routes, low population density, less property base and all the same education requirements as the rest of Wisconsin schools,” Swearingen said. “National forest income will give our kids the resources they need to stay academically competitive with the rest of Wisconsin and the nation.”

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to finalize its deliberations this week. The Wisconsin State Legislature expects to finalize all components of the state biennial budget, including national forest income for schools, before June 30th.

School District Name

Federal Forest Acreage

Estimated Annual Payment

Crandon

172,324

 $352,400

Florence County

85,175

 $137,700

Goodman-Armstrong Creek

8,558

 $17,500

Lac Du Flambeau #1

6,487

 $9,700

Laona

65,462

 $133,700

Northland Pines

10,128

 $16,000

Phelps

37,950

 $60,000

Suring Public

82,648

 $132,000

Three Lakes

17,277

 $27,100

Wabeno Area

147,073

 $276,400

White Lake

37,378

 $70,800

Source: Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau