As the first week of early voting comes to a close today, the Democratic Party is continuing its series of reasons for voters to cast their ballots early and say no to Scott Walker on Election Day. 

To end the first week of early voting we look at Scott Walker's draconian cuts to public education and the influx of taxpayer dollars into unaccountable voucher schools over Walker's first term. Walker made record cuts to education in his first term and left some school districts handcuffed and unable to fund their day-to-day operations without a ballot referendum asking taxpayers for more funds. 

Scott Walker's commitment to education doesn't go very far. Walker has yet to apply for millions in funding from the federal government intended to help the state's preschool programs. The deadline for Wisconsin to apply for the funds is today - and Walker is the only thing standing in the way. 
Wisconsin deserves a governor who cares about our children and will invest in the promise they bring to move our state forward. 
  • In the 2011 - 2013 budget, Governor Walker cut a state record $800 million in direct state spending on public education and mandated new limits on local school districts that left many schools scrambling just to fund their operations for the next school year. [1]

  • In addition to his historic cuts in direct school aid, Walker also cut the base revenue per pupil for each school district by 5.5% in Fiscal Year 2012. Over the biennium that translates into $800 million in lost revenue authority from prior statute for the state’s 424 school districts. [2]

  • The budget also eliminated several revenue limit exemptions such as school nursing, pupil transportation, safety equipment and funds for school security officers. In addition, it reduced nearly all categorical aids by 10 percent, in addition to eliminating some programs outright. [3]

  • In 2012, Wisconsin led the nation in cuts to education spending per-pupil. [4]

  • At least 26 rural school districts this past spring had ballot measures begging residents to approve increases in property taxes above state-set limits just to keep their school's regular operations running. [5]

  • Nearly half of Wisconsin school districts will see a reduction in general school aid this year. [6]

  • In another irresponsible move, Walker is yet to apply for $60 million from the federal government to help preschool programs targeting vulnerable children in high-needs communities. The deadline to apply is today. [7]

  • Meanwhile, unaccountable voucher schools got a staggering influx of taxpayer funds -- an increase of approximately $124 million over Walker’s term. 

  • According to the most recent data, 73% of the voucher students in the new statewide voucher program were already attending a private school before receiving state-funded vouchers. [8]    

  • The 2013-2015 budget included $30 million for a private school tuition deduction for parents at any income level. [9]

  • Walker wants to expand the unaccountable voucher program statewide by removing the enrollment cap - which conservative estimates say could cost a total of $1.2 billion. [10]
BACKGROUND:
[1] “The budget that Gov. Scott Walker signed into law on Sunday cuts $800 million from public education, but in an interview with 12 News on Monday morning, the governor insisted that school districts will benefit from this budget.“ (Walker's Budget Cuts $800 Million From Public Education, WISN, 6/27/11)
[2] (Department of Public Instruction, “Summary of 2011 Wisconsin Act 32, Final 2011-13 Budget with Vetoes”, June 2011)

[3]  (Department of Public Instruction, “Summary of 2011 Wisconsin Act 32, Final 2011-13 Budget with Vetoes”, June 2011)

[4] “In 2012, per-pupil spending fell 6.2 percent, to $11,042 -- the largest drop in the country -- moving the state from 18th to 22nd in the nation by that measure. After adjusting for inflation, Wisconsin spent less per pupil in 2012 than at any point during the previous decade.“ (New Strategy for Student Achievement: Spend Less, Bloomberg View, 5/28/14)
[5] “Do voters want local children to have an adequately funded education, with access to high-quality teachers and learning tools? That's a critical question in the spring election Tuesday for at least 26 rural school districts, where ballot measures will ask residents to approve a boost in property taxes above state-set limits — not for new buildings or technology, but to keep regular operations running.” (Dozens of rural school districts put high-stakes tax hikes to voters, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/30/14)

[6] "The Department of Public Instruction released the certified state aid amount for the coming school year Wednesday, and it shows that about half of school districts will see slight increases while about half will see less state aid. On paper, general state aid for school districts this year increased 2.1 percent. However, the actual amount of aid that the state’s 424 public school districts will receive is substantially less because general state aid for public schools is reduced to pay for private voucher schools in Milwaukee and independent charter schools supported by state tax dollars." (Nearly half of Wisconsin public schools will receive less state aid, WEAC, 10/15/14

[7] "Emails requested by The Associated Press and provided by DPI earlier this week show a Walker adviser earlier this month indicated the grant would not be sought. The message to another policy analyst with the Department of Public Instruction was sent on the same day that Democratic members of Congress sent Walker a letter urging him to apply for the money." (Dems fault Walker for not seeking preschool grant, Wisconsin State Journal10/22/14)
[8] "Just like the inaugural crop of students who kicked off the program last year, 73% of the additional voucher students this year were already attending a private school before they started receiving state-funded vouchers, according to state figures." (Most new enrollees in state voucher program were in private schools, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel10/23/14
[9] “Under the $30 million a year tuition provision, parents of the nearly 100,000 private school students in Wisconsin could receive an income tax deduction of up to $4,000 for tuition paid for each kindergarten through eighth-grade student and up to $10,000 per high school student.” (Tax deduction of up to $10,000 per child in private school added to budget, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/5/13)

[10] 2013-15 Budget Issue Paper Voucher Expansion, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, LFB 2013-15 Budget Summary: Pages 372-374 #3