Assembly Education Committee Passes Amended AB 751

By John Forester | February 10, 2016

This afternoon, at the Assembly Education Committee Executive Session, Committee members adopted Assembly Amendment 3 to Assembly Bill 751 on a 9-5 vote.  The Committee then passed AB 751 as amended on a party line vote with Republicans voting to pass the bill.

While this is disappointing for the SAA and for all supporters of public schools and public school children, the result was not unexpected.  The bill will now likely move on for an Assembly floor vote next Tuesday, February 16th.  The SAA and others will now focus on trying to kill the bill in the Senate.

Many thanks to all SAA members who contacted legislators in opposition to AA 3.  The SAA will keep the membership informed of further developments on this important legislation.

Stay tuned.

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Are Republican Leaders Planning to Break Their Word?

By John Forester | February 10, 2016

You have probably heard Assembly Republicans making the argument that Assembly Amendment 3 to Assembly Bill 751 makes school districts whole on the revenue cap 3 years after new voucher students enroll in the voucher program.  I would like to make three points in response:

  1. By making this argument, proponents are acknowledging that there is a significant first-year problem for affected school districts. In fact, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) estimates the first-year loss in revenue cap authority under AA 3 would be $14.2 million spread across the 142 affected school districts.  And this penalty is being imposed at a time when school revenue limits have been frozen for both years of the current state budget.
  1. Their argument is based on the LFB analysis of one cohort of voucher students. But, a new and likely larger cohort of voucher students enrolls in the voucher program in 2016-17; another and likely larger group in 2017-18; and so on.  The bottom line is affected school districts will likely face a significant first year problem year after year.
  1. Finally, during the 2015-17 state budget process, Republican leaders pledged that they would dramatically increase the use of private school vouchers without adversely impacting educational opportunities for public school children. Given the on-going first year impact of AA 3, if adopted, you have to ask, “Are they planning to break their word?”

Stay tuned.

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LFB Memo on New Amendment: $14.2 Million Cut to 142 Districts

By John Forester | February 9, 2016

Late this afternoon, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) issued a memo detailing the fiscal impact of Assembly Amendment 3 (the new amendment) to AB 751 on the 142 school districts impacted by the Racine and Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs.  The LFB estimates the loss under the amendment to be $14.2 million spread across the 142 districts.

We believe that the Assembly Education Committee plans to adopt AA 3 and pass the amended AB 751 tomorrow in executive session.  Assembly leadership will likely have the amended bill on the Assembly floor for a vote on Thursday.

Once again, here is the bottom line on Assembly Amendment 3: if your district has resident students in the statewide or Racine voucher programs, under this amendment, you will lose revenue limit authority and you will likely have to pay for your voucher students by reducing educational opportunities for the children that remain in your district.  We strongly oppose these efforts and urge you to keep the pressure on state lawmakers.

Stay tuned.

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Committee to Vote Tomorrow on Voucher Revenue Cap Issue

By John Forester | February 9, 2016

The Assembly Education Committee has officially noticed an executive session (vote) on a new amendment to Assembly Bill 751 tomorrow afternoon at 1:30pm.

This new amendment from Speaker Vos is similar to Assembly Amendment 2 (AA 2) to Assembly Bill (AB) 751 in that it would change the revenue limit calculation for new voucher pupils, beginning in 2016-17, to no longer provide an adjustment that counts a new voucher pupil as a full 1.0 pupil for revenue limit purposes.

Under both AA 2 and the new amendment, new voucher pupils who reside within a district would be counted in a manner similar to the way open enrollment pupils are counted for revenue limit purposes (i.e., ramping the count up by 1/3 pupil each year to a full pupil over 3 years).

The new amendment differs from AA 2 in that it attempts to address negative consequences to declining enrollment districts that would occur as a result of the switch to a new calculation method. It tries to accomplish this by excluding new voucher pupils from membership (enrollment) for purposes of calculating declining enrollment adjustments for three years.

The SAA remains opposed to either amendment.  Here is the bottom line: if your district has resident students in the statewide or Racine voucher programs, under either amendment, you will lose revenue limit authority and you will likely have to pay for your voucher students by reducing educational opportunities for the children that remain in your district.  We strongly oppose these efforts and urge you to keep the pressure on state lawmakers.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has been asked to prepare a memo detailing the fiscal impact of this new amendment on each of the affected districts.  We hope this memo will be available soon.  Of course, we will forward it to you as soon as it is available.

The SAA will keep you informed of any additional analysis or new developments on this important legislation.

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Green Bay Responds To Assembly Amendment 2

By John Forester | February 9, 2016

Check out the letter that Green Bay Area Public Schools sent to legislators last week regarding Assembly Amendment 2 to AB 751.

The district does an excellent job of explaining that districts should be allowed to levy to the maximum revenue limit for each voucher student because districts are still responsible for busing eligible voucher students and for administering services for English Language Learners and special education.

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Priority Legislative Alert: Your Response Needed

By John Forester | February 8, 2016

This Is A Priority Legislative Alert!

The Assembly Education Committee has scheduled a hearing and an executive (voting) session on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 1:00 PM.  The committee is likely to take up  Assembly Amendment 2 to Assembly Bill 751 again or a modified version of the amendment.  We will update you tomorrow when an official meeting notice is expected.

We are also hearing that the committee will take up both Assembly Bill 481, relating to restricting when school district referendums may be held and Assembly Bill 469, relating to changing rooms (The SAA opposes both bills).  Amendments are expected to both bills and we will update you when those are available.

Whether Assembly Amendment 2 to AB 751 is modified or not, here is the bottom line: if your district has resident students in the statewide or Racine voucher programs, under this amendment, you will lose revenue limit authority and you will likely have to pay for your voucher students by reducing educational opportunities for the children that remain in your district.  We strongly oppose these efforts and urge you to keep the pressure on state lawmakers.

As we reported earlier, late on Friday the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) issued a memo detailing the fiscal impact of Assembly Amendment 2 to AB 751 on the 142 school districts impacted by the Racine and Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs.  As we expected, the LFB estimates the loss under the amendment to be $22.7 million spread across the 142 districts.

And this penalty is being imposed at a time when school revenue limits have been frozen for both years of the current budget cycle and when 57% of the respondents to the Marquette University Law School Poll say local schools are receiving too little funding from the state!

Once again, I am providing you the names and phone numbers of the members of the Assembly Education Committee.  Please contact the leadership of the Committee (Chairman Thiesfeldt, Vice-Chairman Kitchens and the ranking Democrat Representative Sondy Pope) in opposition to this amendment.  Also, feel free to contact any of the other committee members as well.  Finally, make sure you also contact your Assembly Representative and your State Senator.  For your convenience in doing so, we have provided links to the Assembly Directory, the Senate Directory and to Who Are My Legislators.

Remember, the Committee’s Executive Session is scheduled for 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, so we have no time to waste.  Let’s keep the pressure on.

I get the sense that some legislators are trying to mislead taxpayers into believing you can add thousands of private school students to a publicly-funded system (with vouchers) without having to pay for them.  There are only three ways you can pay for the additional voucher students: 1) additional state resources; 2) local tax increases; or 3) cuts to educational opportunities for public school students.  Clearly, the latter is the preferred option for some in the Legislature.

These Committee members need to feel very uncomfortable over this vote.  Let’s get to it!

Here are the members of the Assembly Education Committee:

Representative Thiesfeldt (Chair) (R-Fond du Lac) (888) 529-0052

Representative Kitchens (Vice-Chair) (R-Sturgeon Bay) (888) 482-0001

Representative Jagler (R-Watertown) (888) 534-0037

Representative Knudson (R-Hudson) (888) 529-0030

Representative Rodriguez (R-Franklin) (888) 534-0021

Representative R. Brooks (R-Saukville) (888) 534-0060

Representative Horlacher (R-Mukwonago) (888) 529-0033

Representative Murphy (R-Greenville) (888) 534-0056

Representative Quinn (R-Rice Lake) (888) 534-0075

Representative Hutton (R-Brookfield) (888) 534-0013

Representative Duchow (R-Town of Delafield) (888) 534-0099

Representative Pope (D-Cross Plains) (888) 534-0080

Representative Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) (888) 534-0020

Representative Genrich (D-Green Bay) (888) 534-0090

Representative Barnes (D-Milwaukee) (888) 534-0011

Representative Considine (D-Baraboo) (888) 534-0081

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LFB Memo: $22.7 Million Cut to 142 Districts

By John Forester | February 8, 2016

Late Friday the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) issued a memo detailing the fiscal impact of Assembly Amendment 2 to AB 751 on the 142 school districts impacted by the Racine and Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs.  As we expected, the LFB estimates the loss under the amendment to be $22.7 million spread across the 142 districts.

As we mentioned in our last post, “It ain’t over til it’s over.”  Respected sources inside the Capitol believe the Assembly Education Committee will be in on Wednesday to take up a modified AA 2.  Yes, that’s right . . . yet another far-reaching revenue cap cut to school districts that will receive little to no public scrutiny before being voted on by the Committee.

Stay tuned.

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News Coverage on AB 751 and Amendments

By John Forester | February 4, 2016

Check out the news coverage on this issue below:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Coverage

Wisconsin State Journal Coverage

 

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AB 751, Amendments Pulled From Committee Agenda

By John Forester | February 4, 2016

Assembly Bill 751 and the amendments proposed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, were pulled from the Assembly Education Committee’s executive session agenda today.

I want to thank all of the SAA members that contacted members of the Committee in opposition to Assembly Amendment 2.  But as the saying goes, “It ain’t over til it’s over”.  I am hearing that the Committee may come back in executive session as early as Monday to take up AB 751 and the amendments.  Therefore, it is vitally important that SAA members continue contacting members of the Assembly Education Committee and your own legislators in opposition to Assembly Amendment 2.

The SAA will continue to keep members up to date on late breaking developments on this important legislation.

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Priority Legislative Alert: Your Immediate Response Needed

By John Forester | February 4, 2016

SAA members please watch this important 4 minute video alert on late breaking developments in the State Capitol. Portions of the video alert, including legislator contact information, appear below in text form.

This is a priority legislative alert!

 

If you are in one of the 142 school districts that are impacted by the Racine or Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs, I need your attention right now and I will need your immediate response to legislators.

Two amendments crafted by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have been hastily added to today’s Executive Session in the Assembly Education Committee.  This means that the amendments are scheduled for a vote in the Committee.  This Executive Session is scheduled to begin at 1:00pm.

These amendments would amend Assembly Bill 751, which would make some technical fixes to the special needs voucher program, but the amendments have nothing to do with special needs vouchers.  These amendments were introduced with very little notice and, of course, neither was afforded the scrutiny of a public hearing. And while the SAA is opposing both amendments, only one of them is the focus of this alert.

Assembly Amendment 2 (LRB a1861/1) would change the revenue limit calculation for incoming choice pupils, beginning in 2016-17,  to no longer provide an adjustment that counts an “incoming choice pupil” as a full 1.0 pupil  for revenue limit purposes.   Instead, incoming voucher students would be counted as other resident students are counted (phasing them in as .333 pupils the first year, .667 pupils the second year and 1.0 student the third year.

Here’s the bottom line:  Any districts that have voucher students will lose money under this amendment.  It will have a different impact on different districts, depending on your revenue cap.

A preliminary, ballpark fiscal analysis estimates the loss of revenue cap authority at about $22 million spread across the 142 districts.  The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has been asked to prepare a memo detailing the fiscal impact on each of the affected districts.  We hope this memo will be available soon.  Of course, we will forward it to you as soon as it is available.

Once again, the bottom line is if your district has voucher students, under this amendment,  you will lose money in 2016-17 and you will  have to pay for your voucher students by reducing educational opportunities for the children that remain in your district.

I am providing you the names and phone numbers of the members of the Assembly Education Committee.  Please contact the leadership of the Committee (Chairman Thiesfeldt, Vice-Chairman Kitchens and the ranking Democrat Representative Sondy Pope) in opposition to this amendment.  Also, contact any of the other committee members that are from your area of the state.  Finally, make sure you also contact your Assembly Representative as well.  For your convenience in doing so, we have provided links to the Assembly Directory and to Who Are My Legislators.

Remember, the Committee’s Executive Session is scheduled for 1:00 this afternoon, so we have no time to waste.

I guess the damage inflicted upon public schools and public school children in the biennial budget just wasn’t enough for some in the Legislature.  These Committee members need to feel very uncomfortable over this vote.  Let’s get to it!

Here are the members of the Assembly Education Committee:

Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (Chair)  R-Fond du Lac  888-529-0052

Representative Joel Kitchens (Vice-Chair)  R-Sturgeon Bay  888-482-0001

Representative John Jagler  R-Watertown  888-534-0037

Representative Dean Knudson  R-Hudson  888-529-0030

Representative Jessie Rodriguez  R-Oak Creek  888-534-0021

Representative Rob Brooks  R-Saukville  888-534-0060

Representative Cody Horlacher  R-Mukwonago  888-529-0033

Representative David Murphy  R-Greenville  888-534-0056

Representative Romaine Quinn  R-Chetek  888-534-0075

Representative Rob Hutton  R-Brookfield  888-534-0013

Representative Cindi Duchow  R-Pewaukee  888-534-0099

Representative Sondy Pope  D-Cross Plains  888-534-0080

Representative Christine Sinicki  D-Milwaukee  888-534-0020

Representative Eric Genrich  D-Green Bay  888-534-0090

Representative Mandela Barnes  D-Milwaukee  888-534-0011

Representative Dave Considine  D-Baraboo  888-534-0081

 

 

Topics: Legislative Action, SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update, SAA Video Alerts | No Comments »

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