By Steve Baas – MMAC Senior VP of Governmental Affairs
Increasing the state share of education funding to its highest level in nearly a decade, Governor Scott Walker introduced his state budget yesterday with a clear focus on building the workforce of Wednesday. Over the biennium, Walker is proposing spending an additional $649 million in state aids for K-12 education and more than $140 million in new funding for the University of Wisconsin System.
Under the Walker proposal, school districts around the state will receive an additional $200 in state funding per pupil in 2017-18 and another $204 increase in 2018-19. In addition to this new funding for school districts, the Governor also increased support for alternative education options in Milwaukee by proposing a $217 per-pupil increases in each year of the biennium for students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and in independent charter schools. Even with these increases, Choice and Charter schools would still receive several thousand dollars less per pupil in taxpayer support than MPS, but the additional funds will help narrow the gap for these schools between the amount of state support they receive and the actual cost of education for their students.
The Governor also is proposing a new incentive program for high-performing or rapidly improving schools in Milwaukee. Under his budget, schools earning one of the two top grades on the state report card or schools that have improved by three grade levels on the report card would be eligible for an additional $100 per pupil in performance bonus funds. Finally, the Governor is proposing $1.4 million each year in summer school grants for MPS.
This week’s budget announcement is only the first step in a budget process that will extend through the legislature over the next 4 months. We are pleased, however, that the initial outline Governor Walker has laid out places such a high priority on the same education issues that our MMAC members consistently tell us are key to our region’s economic success. Click here for the text of the Governor’s Budget Address and to see more details in the Budget in Brief.