« | Home | »

JFC Unanimously Approves Amended AB 835/SB 690

By John Forester | February 9, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

The Joint Finance Committee unanimously approved a plan to boost state aid for small, rural school by $6.5 million and allow low-spending districts to collect more in property taxes.

While members voted 16-0 for the bill, the debate became a series of exchanges over education funding since the end of Dem Gov. Jim Doyle’s term. There also were jabs on Foxconn and talk of unemployment rates.

Dems accused Republicans of making the largest cut to education funding in state history, coming up short on filling the hole and only embracing the sparsity aid package now because it’s an election year.

Republicans countered they gave schools tools through Act 10 to fill that first cut. They also said Doyle cut state aid and used one-time federal stimulus money to backfill it, and the GOP has had to clean it all up over the past seven years, including the largest increase in state aid in Wisconsin history.

Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, accused Dems of talking up their support for education, but falling short when given the opportunity to support the $636 million increase included in the 2017-19 budget. He said Dems should thank Republicans for the sparsity aid bill so they would have the opportunity to finally support education.

“You’re on record voting against public education in the last budget,” Olsen said.

Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, said Republicans should have invested even more in education when they had the chance.

The budget that cleared the Legislature included proposals similar to the provisions in today’s bill. But the guv vetoed the plan.

“It shouldn’t be about election-year politics; it should be about doing the right thing every time for our children,” she said.

Under the bill, the per-pupil sparsity aid payment would go up $100 to $400 starting in the 2018-19 school year. Districts with a maximum of 745 students with a population density of less than 10 per square mile would qualify.

Currently, low-revenue districts are capped at spending $9,100 per student between state aid and property taxes. The bill would boost that to $9,400 in the 2018-19 school year and then allow increases of $100 a year until hitting $9,800 in 2022-23.

Districts would not be eligible if their voters rejected a referendum to exceed spending caps in the previous three years, and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau identified nine districts that would not qualify because of that.

The JFC added an amendment that would allow those with a failed referendum to present another one to voters. If successful, they would then qualify.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates eligible districts could raise another $15.6 million through property taxes in 2018-19.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Comments are closed.