« | Home | »

More on Sparsity Aid Proposal

By John Forester | October 11, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Gov. Scott Walker, who vetoed from the budget a plan to boost low-spending school districts by allowing them to collect more in property taxes, yesterday urged lawmakers to back a standalone bill to pump more money into state aid that benefits rural schools for 2018-19.

Under the proposal, rural districts with 745 students or less would get $400 per pupil through sparsity aid rather than the current $300. There also would be a second tier in the program for districts with between 746 and 1,000 pupils of $100 per student.

The plan, authored by state Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, and Rep. Jeffrey Mursau, R-Crivitz, mirrors the sparsity aid package Walker included in his budget. GOP lawmakers replaced it with a plan that would have allowed low-spending districts, now capped at $9,100 per student, to increase their revenue limits through 2022-23 by $100 a year.

Walker nixed that plan with one of the 99 vetoes he issued, actions he said improved the general fund balance by $16.5 million in the current biennium and about $71 million in 2019-21. He called on lawmakers to use that money for tax deduction and more sparsity aid.

The proposed bill carries a price tag of $9.7 million.

“Rural communities have unique challenges and our original state budget plan included a major boost for rural schools,” Walker said today. “I am pleased that Senator Marklein and Representative Mursau are introducing a bill incorporating initiatives from our budget proposal to help rural schools.”

Along with vetoing the low-spending district plan, Walker also nixed budget provisions GOP lawmakers included such as grants for whole grade sharing.

JFC Co-chair John Nygren said after hearing about the new proposal, he called Walker’s Chief of Staff Rich Zipperer to discuss ways they could work together to help rural schools that could include some ideas GOP lawmakers advanced, but the guv nixed.

“I think there might be an opportunity to look at ways to protect the taxpayer and yet address the inequity that exists,” the Marinette Republican said. “That’s going to be our direction. That’s going to be our charge to address the governor’s concern and yet address my policy initiative.”

Fellow Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said she supports the sparsity aid proposal. She also prefers a clean bill rather than including other ideas.

“I think Rep. Mary Felzkowski had some really good ideas,” Darling said of the JFC member’s education proposals. “But I think sparsity aid on its own as the governor had it in the budget is the way to go to get support.”

Marklein voted for the JFC education package even though he voiced reservations about the decision to drop Walker’s sparsity aid plan.

“I’m just happy that we’re going to take another run at it,” he said.

Mursau, meanwhile, said he’s been interested in the issue for several years, particularly after schools in his district lost out on the aid after enrollees in summer school pushed them above the limits to receive the aid. He said adding the second level of sparsity aid for districts between 746 and 1,000 students ensures they aren’t simply cut off if they barely come in above the current limit.

“At least it’s a slower let down than completely cutting it off,” he said.

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

Comments are closed.