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Capitol Update
By Senator Howard Marklein
May 23, 2019

Budget Bulletin II

JFC spends $500 million more for Education, gives raises to Correctional Officers

The Joint Finance Committee made the largest investment in schools in the history of Wisconsin. We are spending $500 million more for school funding to bring total school spending to $12.3 billion in the next biennium. We increased special education funding by nearly $100 million. By 2021, we will cover 30% of special education costs. This is exactly what Governor Evers’ asked for in the last three budgets as Superintendent of Public Instruction.
I have talked to leadership in many of the 34 school districts I represent and their priorities were to increase per pupil and special education spending. I confirmed with several of them that our plan to increase per pupil funding by $200 and $204 per pupil in the next two years and to cover 30% of special education funding is in line with their priorities and they heartily agreed. They told me that our plan will make a difference in the districts I represent.
Public education is – and always has been – a priority for me. The plan we approved today gives our schools funds and tools to meet the needs of our kids. We invested $500 million more directly in classrooms all over Wisconsin and I am proud of our work.
Our education budget spends a lot more on our kids while respecting taxpayer dollars. Those who criticize our plan are focused on an unrealistic, blue-sky wish list of spending that raises taxes and sacrifices other priorities. Our plan is a compromise that most school districts strongly support and I hope that the Governor will listen to the school district leaders who are applauding this plan.
It is important to remember that the State Budget must balance all of our priorities – schools, health care, transportation and much, much more. Education is still the biggest piece of our budget pie and we made tremendous investments in this budget.
We also made a significant investment in the Department of Corrections (DOC). All Correctional Officers, Youth Counselors and Psychiatric Care Technicians at prisons in Wisconsin will be getting approximately $2 more per hour starting January 1, 2020 under the legislature’s budget. We will be boosting entry-level pay by $2, which will lead to starting pay of more than $19 per hour by the end of the biennium. These raises will be effective on January 1, 2020, rather than in May 2020 as proposed by the Governor.
We have also created a Long-term Service Award Program for all protective service positions in the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Department of Health Services (DHS). Beginning January 1, 2020, one-time lump sum awards (bonuses) would be provided $250 upon completion of 10 years of service, $500 upon completion of 15 years of service, $750 upon completion of 20 years of service and $1000 upon completion of 25 years of service and every five years thereafter.
Overall, we have increased funding for the DOC by $162,599,000 in the next biennium. The majority of this investment is for people. We are investing in the staff who work very hard, under difficult circumstances, to serve our state. We are also investing in facilities and programs that are needed to provide services and supports for individuals who are incarcerated.  We are working to provide better transitions and job training.
I am proud to be the co-author of this motion with my colleague Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam). Funding the DOC is a priority and our decisions will have a true and lasting impact on the department and the hard-working people who serve in these difficult jobs.
Our work in these areas is a fair, equitable approach. We did not pick winners and losers. We are supporting all of our staff in DOC and DHS facilities. Their service is worthy of our investment. We have devoted $500 million more for education, directly into the classroom.  We are hearing all of our constituents and funding their priorities while respecting taxpayers throughout the state.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have any questions or need assistance with any state-related matters.