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Suggestions for Budget Advocacy

By John Forester | March 11, 2019

I would like to thank all those SAA members that have already begun conversations with their legislators regarding the governor’s budget recommendations.  Our success during this state budget process will be determined by your relationships with your legislators and your willingness to contact your legislators repeatedly throughout the long budget process.

While this post is not a full-blown “legislative alert” (that will come a little later) on the state budget, I do want to provide you with some suggestions for your initial budget conversations with your legislators.

In your communications, I suggest you cover the following:

  1. Invite your legislators to your school(s).  Use the opportunity to show them some of the great educational opportunities afforded to the children in your district.  Show them what learning looks like today in your district.
  2. Walk through your revenue cap worksheets with your legislators.
  3. Express your strong support for at least a $200/pupil general revenue increase in each year of the biennium.  Explain the importance of these increases in human and in fiscal terms.  In particular, emphasize the impact on educational opportunities for the kids you serve.
  4. In my meetings this past week, it became clear that many inside the Capitol do not understand special education funding.  It is vitally important that you reach out and educate your legislators on the following:
    • Wisconsin special education categorical aid is distributed on a cost-reimbursement model; our current reimbursement rate is about 25% on prior year costs.
    • Wisconsin identifies students for special education at about the national average.
    • There is no incentive to “over-identify” students for special education.
    • Explain your district’s fund 10 to fund 27 transfer, as well as the internal friction that transfer can generate.
    • Express your strong support for the governor’s proposed increase in funding for special education.
  5. Remember, it is in our interest to largely support the governor’s recommendations.  Let’s not negotiate with ourselves.  We need to stay together as a political organization, and as K-12 advocates.

For your convenience, I have provided links to the Senate Directory, the Assembly Directory and Who Are My Legislators.

Thanks for listening, and for all your efforts on behalf of the kid’s you serve.

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