Heather DuBois Bourenane, Executive Director, Wisconsin Public Education Network
January 27, 2022.
Kids Can’t Wait: Use historic surplus to support Wisconsin’s children
Wisconsin’s kids need the plan put forward today by Governor Evers to use $611 million of the state’s historic $3.8 billion surplus to support Wisconsin students now!
The current budget provides $0 in increased spending for the 2022-23 school year, a fact that has created uncertainty for schools statewide and made an already stressful pandemic year even more so. Federal money for COVID relief has provided much-needed resources for districts currently. But a financial cliff awaits them if nothing is done.
The governor’s new plan provides $328 per pupil to every public school student. In addition, it addresses the shameful $1 billion+ annual funding gap for special education by increasing the special education reimbursement rate to 40%.
The plan also allocates critical aid to addressing our kids’ most urgent needs. Investments in meeting mental health needs, English language learners, school lunch, school breakfast and supplemental nutrition support will help our schools address the many challenges facing districts statewide so that every student has the opportunity to learn.
Notably, nearly every proposal in the plan provides desperately needed resources to fund the 2019 recommendations of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding. The last state budget did not meet these needs. The federal funds for pandemic relief do not meet these needs. We ask the legislature to do their job and meet the needs of Wisconsin’s kids now.
With a whopping $5.5 billion currently sitting in state coffers, this needed plan allows districts to meet the most urgent needs of our children and leave an unprecedented $3.8 billion in the bank. After making this increased investment in our kids, Wisconsin will still have $1.7 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and a surplus of $2.1 billion.
We can afford to meet our kids’ most basic needs, and our kids can’t afford for us not to. Wisconsin can’t wait for another budget cycle to revisit this crisis, and our kids can’t wait another year to get the resources in their classrooms they need now.
We have the money. We have a common sense plan that we can afford. Let’s use it to send a clear message to our children and the educators who work so hard to meet their needs: we will not let you down.
Wisconsin Kids Can’t Wait for the resources they need now. If you agree, click here to call on Wisconsin lawmakers to make this proposal a reality today.