Wisconsin schools could lose $ 2.3 billion under GOP budget plan

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The non-partisan legislative tax office on Wednesday released a note estimating the amount of federal money for Wisconsin schools at risk of losing under a Republican budget proposal is significantly higher than an earlier estimate of $ 1.5 billion . Money is in danger, the US Department of Education has Explain, because the Republican majority in the legislature produced an education budget that does not meet the minimum federal requirements for the state’s investment in its own public schools.

Legislative Republicans pointed to the large amount of federal COVID relief money flowing into the state to justify a budget for K-12 schools that’s less than a tenth of the money Gov. Tony Evers put into his budget proposal. In addition, they have offered to transfer $ 350 million from education funds to the state’s rainy day fund, where it can be used in the future for any purpose.

The Fiscal Bureau’s new estimate puts the amount of federal funding that Wisconsin stands to lose under the proposal at $ 2.3 billion.

This amount includes $ 784.4 million provided to the state under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) and $ 1.6 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

In order to receive these funds, the proportion of state expenditure allocated to Kindergarten to 12th grade and higher education in 2021-2022 must be kept at the same level as the average state allocation over the years. fiscal years 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. year.

“Unless Republicans fund our schools properly, Wisconsin’s 421 school districts will lose a combined $ 2.3 billion,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), who received the tax office memo in response to a request. “No more excuses, no more games… it’s time for Republicans to do the right thing because the budget clock is ticking.”

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“I think the Republicans are still a little dizzy, kind of getting hit on the head with a very, very big dollar amount that is at risk here in Wisconsin,” Erpenbach said in a statement. press conference ahead of the joint finance committee meeting on Thursday. . “And by the way, part of that $ 2.3 billion that’s at risk is about $ 77 million that’s supposed to go to private schools – so maybe that will grab their attention.”

When Erpenbach raised the issue of the loss of federal money Republicans rely on to make up for their low budget for schools, Republican Finance Committee co-chair Senator Howard Marklein noted he was “aware of the problem” but “I think the risk is manageable”, and he thought the federal government could change the rules.

“I suspect that at the end of the day the Republicans will come to their senses,” Erpenbach said at the joint finance committee press conference. “They’ll make sure they’re funding K-12 education properly, and we’ll get that money.” If we don’t, they have to go home and explain to all the administrators, all the teachers, all the families of the kids who go to these schools, why they weren’t good enough for $ 2.35 billion. .

09 Erpenbach CP


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