ICYMI: Wisconsin Fourth Biggest Cuts To Education Since 2008
According to a new report issued by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Wisconsin made the fourth largest cuts in state general funding for K-12 schools through fiscal years 2008-2016.
Only Oklahoma, Alabama, and Arizona made cuts larger than the 12.7% per student cuts made in the Badger State. In Wisconsin, the cuts can't be made up at the local level, thanks to Republican lawmakers decision to prohibit local school districts from making up losses through raising property taxes.
During last year's spring elections, at least twenty-six school districts sought ballot measures asking residents to approve a boost in property taxes just to keep the school's regular operations running. Wisconsin Republican's haven't made public schools a budget priority in the last three budget cycles putting schools in both rural and urban school districts at risk of closing.
Gov. Walker's first budget cut a historic $792 million from k-12 public education, and according to the Department of Public Instruction, school districts faced a median decrease of 9.9 percent in state aid. In subsequent budgets in 2013 and again in 2015, Republican's failed to recoup the losses from previous budgets leaving public schools in Wisconsin underfunded.
Independent research released today by the One Wisconsin Institute shows the Bradley Foundation, headed by Scott Walker supporter Michael Grebe, spent over $108 million in support of education privatization from 2005 to 2014 - helping shift priorities away from supporting public schools with state aid in Wisconsin. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the voucher program will cost Wisconsin taxpayers over $1.1 billion from 2011 through the end of the current budget cycle.
Education cuts in our state have dire consequences for children, local communities, and Wisconsin's economy as a whole. Reducing state support makes it harder to hire and retain the most qualified teachers and limits opportunities for school children in our state. Students learn better with the most gifted teachers in the classroom and are better prepared to enter our state's universities, colleges, and workforce.
"Wisconsin Republicans don't seem to understand that education cuts do not happen in a vacuum, they effect real school children and families in every corner of the state," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Kory Kozloski said on Thursday. "Reducing the opportunity for students to learn, grow, and become successful isn't the way we move our state forward."