Legislature Votes on 2023-25 State Budget

By Dee Pettack | June 29, 2023

From WisPolitics.com …

The $98.7 billion budget cleared the GOP-run Senate last night 20-13.

GOP state Sens. Rob Hutton, of Brookfield, and Steve Nass, of Whitewater, were the only members to cross party lines on the vote, opposing the budget.

The Assembly plans to convene today at 1pm and the budget is the only bill on the calendar.  They have scheduled eight hours for debate.  The floor session can be viewed on wiseye.org.

If the Assembly signs off on the budget without any changes to what the Senate approved, the bill would then go to The Governor for review.

Republicans in the Senate approved one amendment that largely included language meant to guard against Evers being able to use his partial veto authority on the bill.  Other amendments that sought to increase funding for schools, eliminate the 2017 Act 141 penalty on low revenue districts, and reverse the elimination of high poverty aid were rejected by the majority party.

In Wisconsin the Governor has one of the most powerful veto powers in the nation, allowing them to strike or reduce appropriations in spending bills by writing in a smaller amount, though they can’t increase spending that the Legislature proposed.

The governor also may strike words, numbers and punctuation, though they can’t strike out individual letters to create new words — once dubbed the “Vanna White veto” — and aren’t allowed to create new sentences by combining parts of two or more sentences in the text — which critics called the “Frankenstein veto.”

Additional updates will be provided as the budget moves forward.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

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Low Revenue District Clarification

By Dee Pettack | June 22, 2023

Hi all –

Apologies if there was confusion that stemmed from the previous blog post.

The excel spreadsheet contained several tabs which listed all low revenue districts and those impacted by the ACT 141 penalty.

Here is a simple list of those districts impacted.

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Urgent Budget Update

By Dee Pettack | June 22, 2023

Good afternoon, Members:

On Tuesday Governor Evers signed SB 330 into law.  This bill was the result of an overall budget compromise that Governor Evers struck with Legislative leaders from both houses.  This piece of policy was advanced outside of the normal budget process.  A summary of the overall budget compromise can be found here.

Today, the Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 4:30pm to finish the remaining pieces of the budget which includes funding for the University of Wisconsin, Shared Revenue and Tax Relief, General Fund Taxes, and the Budget Stabilization Fund.  The agenda is available here.  As in previous budget cycles the committee will also take up the #999 motion which is considered the “wrap up motion” which can contain various pieces of fiscal policy from any area of the budget.  This is the final step of Joint Finance Committee action before both houses will begin action on the proposal.

Members have reached out about several areas of the budget including the impacts of 2017 Act 141 which penalize certain school districts for having a failed referenda in the last three years and the impact of the elimination of the High Poverty Aid provision that impacts many districts around the state.  I have attached lists of those impacted for your reference.  I would encourage those impacted to reach out to their legislators and members of the Joint Finance Committee to express how these provisions would impact on your ability to serve your students.

The list of districts impacted by the elimination of High Poverty Aid can be found here.

The list of districts impacted by the penalties created for low revenue districts under 2017 Act 141 can be found here.

Finally, a comprehensive summary of the literacy legislation which passed the Assembly yesterday will be forthcoming and can be used when contacting your Senators and the Governor who will need to act on the legislation before it becomes law.

You can find the contact information for your state legislators here and the emails for Joint Finance Committee members is listed below.  Please reach out to me if you have questions.


Joint Finance Member Emails

















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Education Omnibus Motion #103

By Dee Pettack | June 15, 2023

This week the Legislature not only moved to approve a bill that both raised the low revenue limit ceiling and increased the amount of payments to voucher schools and independent charter payments.  This bill was advanced tangentially with the budget as part of the compromise Governor Evers and Legislative Leaders reached last week that included shared revenue increases.  The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) approved the education omnibus late Tuesday night on a party-line 11-4 vote.  The omnibus motion by JFC outlines the major provisions agreed to as part of the compromise made last week and provides additional details around other categorical aids.  The legislature is also moving forward on a literacy proposal – an update on that legislation is also provided below.


The budget proposal does not include many details thus, there many questions that need to be answered including the property tax implications of Senate Bill 330, implementation of the low revenue increase, methodology for the distribution of several categorial aids and others.  Below is a summary of the major provisions included in the omnibus motion #103:


School Funding


Categorical State Aids


Choice/Charter Funding


JFC Supplemental Appropriation

NOTE: The motion did not indicate the process for DPI to access these funds, it will be up to JFC to release the funds when the respective policy pertaining to the set aside is signed into law.


Literacy Proposal

This week the legislature advanced Assembly Bill 321 through the Assembly Committee on State Affairs.  Concerns were raised in the public hearing, and it is expected legislators may be discussing this with education leaders in their district.  There are many areas of concern with this bill, including the development of a reading council with six appointees from the majority party and three from the Department of Public Instruction.  The make up of this council could lead to the further politization of literacy in our state and I think we can all agree that will not be good for our students.  The proposal, as currently drafted only allows a student one test to show their reading proficiency – if a student falls in the bottom 25% – the student must be retained for third grade reading.  We all know that years of research has shown us that retention is not the best way to serve our students who are struggling with literacy.  Additionally, the bill prescribes what type of materials can be purchased in public schools, specifically prohibiting certain materials.

The Joint Finance Committee set aside $50 million intended to fund some of the initiatives included in the literacy proposal including the deployment of 60+ reading coaches across the state and to fund the purchase of approved curriculum by districts.  While the investment in literacy is important there are concerns it will not be enough to serve all our schools and given the staffing challenges across the state, hiring 60+ reading coaches will not only be challenging but it may draw reading specialists away from districts where they are currently serving students.

The future of this bill and subsequent amendments is very much in flux.  We all want to see our students’ literacy skills improved but moving this bill that contains too many logistically unworkable situations, too many unanswered questions and policy that has been proven to not be in the best interest of students at such a rapid pace simply does not make sense.  I encourage you to contact your legislator and let them know how this proposal would impact the good work you are doing.  Here is a sample communication from one of our colleagues.

As always, please reach out to me if you have any questions.

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Legislative and Budget Alert

By Dee Pettack | June 13, 2023

Good morning members,

As you know, things are progressing quickly in the Capitol after news broke last week that K-12 finance was negotiated as part of a larger conversation around shared revenue.  There are several committees’ meetings today that will impact the 2023-25 state budget. 

While the Assembly committee on education is meeting on AB 305, the Senate committee on education is holding a vote on the companion bill SB 330.  The proposals are moving tangentially with the K-12 budget before the Joint Finance Committee today and represent the compromise that Governor Evers and Legislative leaders agreed to last week addressing per pupil payments for choice and charter schools and raise the low revenue limit ceiling from $10,000 to $11,000.  Several questions have yet to be answered on this specific proposal including the impact that Act 141 would have on the ability of 28 school districts to raise their revenue limit.

This afternoon, the Joint Finance Committee will take up the K-12 funding in accordance with the compromise released late last week.  At this time, no additional information has been provided in writing and there are many outstanding questions.  A copy of the motion will be summarized as soon as we have access to those details.  I encourage you to contact your legislators and share how the current proposal would impact your district finances next year.  A sample of an email can be found here

Find your state legislators here.  Please reach out if you have questions.  

Additionally, the Assembly Committee on State Affairs will hold a hearing on AB 321 which is the literacy proposal introduced tangentially to the $50 million proposed set aside in the state budget.  Ultimately while we all want to see an investment in our students’ literacy attainment but this sweeping bill being rushed through in the assembly, and it contains too many logistically unworkable scenarios, unanswered questions and retention requirement that research has proven is not in the best interest of all children.  An example of communication on this issue can be found here.

I encourage you all to continue to reach out to your legislators if possible.

I will follow back as soon as more information is available.

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Joint Committee on Finance to take up K-12 Budget Tuesday

By Dee Pettack | June 9, 2023

Good afternoon –It appears JFC will be taking up the K-12 Budget on Tuesday.  If you have time over the weekend or Monday morning, please reach out to your legislators to express the needs of your district. Please see my previous blog post to review the results of the negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions over the weekend.

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Literacy Legislation

By Dee Pettack | June 9, 2023

Early yesterday, Representative Joel Kitchens and Senator Duey Stroebel introduced literacy and reading legislation that is tied to the $50 million set aside in the budget compromise also introduced later in the day.  The proposal would focus primarily on our youngest learners in grades K-3.  It directs schools to use phonics and the science of reading to instruct learners.

While funding is being advanced separately in the state budget to support some of the initiatives in the bill it is unlikely that the $50 million set aside would cover the requirements enumerated in this legislation.  The two components are being advanced separately. You can view the co-sponsorship memo here.  This bill is moving at a very fast pace and will likely be scheduled for public hearings in both houses next week.  I encourage everyone to read the provisions below and take the opportunity to discuss the impact it will have on your district with your legislators.

WASB has provided a comprehensive outline of the provisions in the  legislation which would require the following:

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Budget Compromise Announced

By Dee Pettack | June 8, 2023

Today, Governor Evers and GOP legislative leaders announced they had reached a deal on a shared revenue package for local governments which included a deal on K-12 education funding in conjunction.  The compromise package includes over $1 billion in spendable revenue for public school districts.

While all the details on the overall package will be forthcoming this is what we know about the proposal now:

The compromise also includes an increase in the per pupil voucher payments as follows:

The voucher per student increases are as follows: K-8 from $8,399 to $9,500 and Grades 9-12 from $9,045 to $12,000. Charter school payments increase from $9,264 to $11,000 per student.

As details of the proposals of announced, SAA will provide talking points for not only the biennial budget proposal but also the forthcoming reading proposal linked the $50 million in the budget proposal.

Media Statements:

Governor Evers

Republican Legislative Leaders

Democrat Legislative Leaders

Legislative Fiscal Budget Papers:

Budget Papers (wisconsin.gov)

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Legislative Alert on Literacy

By Dee Pettack | June 8, 2023

Republican Legislators have scheduled a press conference for 9am today to introduce their proposal on K-12 literacy.  SAA was able to view a draft of the proposal late yesterday and anticipate the introduction of the final proposal today.

The draft proposal was wide ranging including items such as required training, adoption of a statewide literacy screener and the development of a third-grade retention policy and approved list of curricula.

When the final draft is made available, SAA will provide a summary and copy of the legislation.  For those who wish to view the press conference – you can find it here.

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ESSER Funds & 2023-25 State Budget Update

By Dee Pettack | June 6, 2023

ESSER Funds Update from DPI:

Education partners, DPI is pleased to share the attached information sent by the US Department of Education confirming that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which suspended the Federal debt ceiling, does not impact formula-driven COVID-19 relief funds awarded under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program, the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) program, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) program, or the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) program. LEAs should continue to spend and claim these funds according to their DPI approved budgets and plans by their federal deadlines (September 30, 2023 and September 30, 2024).

Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 and COVID 19 Relief Funds Letter

Budget Update:

The Joint Finance Committee is only meeting on Thursday this week.  Generally, most budgets are completed by the July 1st deadline.  Governor Evers’ first two budgets were passed by the Committee on June 11, 2019, and June 17, 2021.

The 2023-25 budget appears to be moving at a slower pace than most budgets in the last few decades.  Major items, like K-12 spending are being held up due to negotiations on shared revenue (funding for local governments).

Twice in the past 20 years the committee has completed its work by now, once in 2013 under Gov. Scoot Walker it finished June 4th after a grueling all-night session.  Two budgets in the past 20 years were unable to advance the bill out of committee by June 30th.  In 2015, JFC sent the budget to both houses on July 2nd. In 2017, disagreements between the houses, largely related to the amount of bonding to spend on transportation kept the bill in JFC until September 5th.

Additional updates will be forthcoming – please use this time to reach out to your legislators to express the needs of your school district and the impact significant investments in general, flexible, spendable aid, special education aid and mental health would have on your school district.

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