State budget would boost school funding

By Andrew Beckett, Wisconsin Radio Network

Governor Scott Walker plans to include an increase in K-12 education funding in the state budget he will introduce later this week.

Walker’s office says the governor plans include $649 million in new state aids for schools, for a total investment of $11.5 billion over the two-year budget cycle. The increased would amount to about $200 more in per pupil spending for each year of the biennium.

The governor last week also called for increasing state funding for sparsity and transportation aids for the state’s rural schools. “We are ramping up state support for our public schools, and we are also investing in important things like mental health programs for our children and early college credit so students can get a head start on college, career, and life,” Walker said in a statement.

Democrats have been quick to point out that the increase still falls short of the money Walker and Republicans have cut since the governor took office. Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, said in a statement that Wisconsin schools have lost over a billion dollars in state aid under Walker, forcing voters to raise their own property taxes just to keep running. “The governor’s attempt to repair the damage he has caused does not deserve celebration,” she argued.

Walker will unveil his full budget proposal this Wednesday.