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2023-2024 Legislative Session

Address Disparities in Opportunity and School Funding

In Wisconsin, while 1% of Wisconsin’s white children live in high poverty areas 35% of African-American children and 18% of Latino children do. In 2019, the white graduation rate was 92.7%, compared to the Black graduation rate of 67% - the highest discrepancy in the nation. It also had the 47th highest gap between Black and white students in its share of adults with high school or bachelor’s degree. Since 2000-01, the number of bilingual pupils in the state has increased by approximately 78%, however, the appropriation for bilingual-bicultural aid increased by only 4%.

Increase mental health support

Between 2016 and 2019, 14.9% of Wisconsin youth ages 12-17 reported a major depressive episode in the past year. During the same time period, 12.1% of young adults aged 18-25 in Wisconsin reported having had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year. Wisconsin's 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that of the pupils surveyed, 49.0% reported high levels of anxiety, 28.5% indicated depression, and 18.5% reported that they had engaged in self-harm over the previous twelve months.

2023-2025 Budget Policies & Their Outcomes

$500 million total increases to expand access to mental and behavioral health.

One of the most important aspects of mental health services is having access to care when you need it the most. Services a county or two over cannot be helpful when someone is in the midst of a crisis or feels one coming on. That is why Governor Evers made key investments to improve crisis response, improve mental health facilities, prevent suicides, and expand access to substance use disorder services.

Outcome: The GOP cut investments to add outpatient behavior health services, removed all funding increases for the suicide prevention line, and zeroed out substance use disorder expansion.

$270 million in funding for student mental health programs and support professionals.

School connectedness—the feeling of belonging in a school that cares about each student—positively impacts student mental health. Kids who feel connected to at least one person at school have significantly better mental health than those who lack a connection to school. These connections were diminished during the pandemic, and kids continue to fight to overcome lost school connections.

This is why Governor Evers continued funding for "Get Kids Ahead," an initiative that enhances per pupil payments for mental health service programs, as well as setting aside funds to support school mental health professional development.

Outcome: The GOP reduced the funding for schools from a per pupil, statewide, $270 million, to a $30 million grant-based system, pitting schools in need against each other. 

Expand Bucky's Promise

Bucky's Promise is a University of Wisconsin System program that allows students with a household income of less than $60,000 to attend any UW school tuition-free for four years. This program has been incredibly effective and bridging the gap in higher education for working families. Governor Evers wanted to expand this program to be statewide.

Outcome: Not included in the GOP budget proposal passed into law.