(Madison) Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ proposed two-year state budget includes a major focus on K-12 education funding.
“So for the second budget in a row, our Badger Bounceback agenda proposes that the state delivers on its commitment to two-thirds funding for our schools.” The Democratic governor says that idea has bipartisan support. “Let’s stop talking about it, and just get it done.”
Evers proposed a $91 billion two-year spending plan includes a $1.6 billion increase in funding for K-12 schools.
Evers’ proposed budget also keeps a UW System tuition freeze in place, while dramatically increasing funding.
“We’re also going to fund that freeze and invest $190 million into the UW System over the next two years. So at the end of this biennium, when all is said and done, the state will again be investing more GPR dollars annually in the UW System than the Department of Corrections.”
Republicans who control the legislature supported the tuition freeze, but they’re likely to balk at that large an investment in the UW System.
Evers ended his state budget address Tuesday night with a challenge to legislators. “Our opportunity to bounce back from this crisis calls for you to summon the will to get this done. There’s no time for false promises of hope and prosperity, with empty words that you know full well won’t match your actions. You can disagree with me if you want, but don’t punish the people we serve so you can settle a score no one but you is keeping.”
All told, the Democratic governor’s proposal increases state spending by 10 percent over the next two years. State government would have an overall operating budget of $45.4 billion in the first year of the budget and $45.6 billion in the second.
Evers has included budget language creating a state-based exchange through the Affordable Care Act, part of a proposal to expand the state’s acceptance of federal Medicaid funding. Evers’ office estimates that would benefit around 90,000 people. The governor has also proposed legalizing recreational and medical marijuana.
“It’s disappointing to see that once again, the governor is taking an approach to our state’s budget that increases the tax burden on Wisconsinites and invests in the wrong priorities,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke. “By building his budget on non-negotiables like legalizing recreational marijuana and expanding government-run healthcare, the governor is once again taking an all-or-nothing approach to governing.”
“While there are items in the budget we can agree and build on – things like funding our schools and expanding the Child Psychiatry Consultation Program – I along with my Assembly Republican colleagues will be focused on bringing to the table a budget that reflects Wisconsin priorities, not another liberal wishlist.”
Evers’ proposal now goes to the legislature’s Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee.
State Representative Mark Born, co-chair of Joint Finance, says he is disappointed that Evers included divisive items in his budget proposal. The Beaver Dam Republican says the governor is including items like welfare expansion and marijuana legalization to try and fund massive amounts of spending and several new programs.
However, Born notes that Evers did fund several priorities important to Wisconsinites including broadband and an increase to pay for those caring for the most vulnerable.
–Courtesy of WRN