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JFC Republicans propose putting $150 million into K-12 schools now, setting aside $350 million

By John Forester | May 27, 2021

From WisPolitics…

GOP lawmakers are proposing to put $150 million into K-12 education now, while putting aside $350 million that could be released later.

The proposed move comes with a federal requirement that the state maintain its current spending commitment to K-12 education in order to qualify for $2.2 billion in COVID-19 funds, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

The state would have to add $387 million in funding for K-12 education to the budget in its current form to meet that requirement. The price tag would go up if the Legislature spends additional general purpose revenue in other areas of the budget lawmakers have yet to take up.

There is a separate requirement to maintain the state’s funding commitment to higher ed to qualify for that federal aid as well. The committee was also scheduled to take up higher ed today.

Dems argued holding back $350 million of the money wouldn’t meet that requirement and jeopardizes the funding.

Joint Finance Co-chair Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, said lawmakers will “deal with that maintenance of effort issue along the way” as they build the rest of the budget.

The $150 million going to K-12 includes:

*$109 million into special ed;
*$13 million for high-cost transportation aid;
*$6.3 million to increase sparsity aid.

The rest of the $150 million would go into categorical aids, Born said during a pre-meeting news conference.

The committee today also plans to rework a plan from the Department of Public Instruction for some federal COVID-19 aid going to Wisconsin schools. It would reward districts that have offered in-person learning for at least 50 percent of the 2020-21 school year.

GOP lawmakers didn’t immediately release full details of their plan for K-12 or the reworking of the DPI money.

See the GOP release.

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