Local level action, statewide impact. Let’s come together to make sure our state budget meets our kids’ urgent needs and provides every child in every public school equal opportunity to succeed!

Where are we now in the budget process? See below for details & resources!

TAKE ACTION FOR OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS ON JUNE 21, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. Click the image to RSVP for details, toolkits, and to attend or help plan an event near you.
CLICK HERE for the DAY OF ACTION Toolkit — a central document of resources, plans, and ideas for the day.

WE WARNED YOU IT WOULD BE BAD. IT’S WORSE. The Joint Finance Committee cut 90% of proposed school funding from the Governor’s budget. The committee then met in executive session to pass tax breaks that John Forester from the School Administrators Alliance rightfully called “school funding in name only.” But the good news is that Wisconsin has a “golden opportunity” to use unexpected revenues to fill the gap and deliver the budget our children so desperately need.

Join us on MONDAY JUNE 21 for a statewide day of action to urge everyone to stand up now for the schools our kids deserve! Click here to send a NEW email to your lawmakers urging them to fix this mistake and support our public schools while there’s still time! And join our one-hour Tweetstorm from 5 to 6 pm on the Statewide Day of Action by clicking here to Tweet directly at your lawmakers.

See some excellent statements and reactions from districts and organizations around the state and encourage your local boards, superintendents, and communities to join:

The JFC voted to approve its education budget on Thursday, May 27. Its passage through committee along party-line votes essentially zeroed out increases in per-pupil aid, revenue limits, and special education reimbursements to public schools. Click here for a map that shows what that means to your district: https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/policy-budget/special_ed_aid_map.html. In doing this, the committee has put federal COVID-19 recovery funds at serious risk.

CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS. CONTACT YOUR SUPERINTENDENT. GET YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY READY TO TAKE ACTION. Click here to see our NEW Budget Action Guide with steps on how to speak up on this!

See our press release on the budget papers and the virtual rally here.
Click here for an Action Toolkit to take local, statewide, and digital steps to get our pro-public message.

May 26, 2021: Tweet at the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance NOW. Click here to open a pre-filled tweet OR copy-paste this message to make sure your budget priorities are known: .@SenMarklein @RepBorn Please #DoYourJob and move forward with a pro-public budget that will #CloseTheGaps for kids and public schools. This Wisconsinite supports a 50 percent special ed reimbursement and increases to spendable aid and revenue limits! @WiscEdNetwork #WiBudget

– Past: The Governor introduced his budget and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau delivered a review of that budget. The Department of Public instruction delivered its testimony on April 6 at 10am. Public hearings before the Joint Finance Committee were on April 9 (Whitewater), April 21 (Rhinelander), April 22 (Menomonie), and April 28 (virtual). Written and recorded testimony was due on April 30 at noon.

– We tracked testimony at all four live hearings. See a summary of our final tallies here.

– If you testified live and/or in writing and want to amplify your impact, please email your testimony to HDB@WisconsinNetwork.org.

– Please find some of our partners’ written (and some video!) testimonies in this Google folder.

– On Friday, April 30 at 2:00 p.m., just two hours after written testimony on the budget was due to the Joint Finance Committee and before the committee had reviewed these public comments, the committee released this memo announcing its first meeting in Executive Session on the budget and itemizing a number of items in the Governor’s proposed budget that it intends to eliminate without further consideration. At the meeting on Thursday, May 6, the committee took executive action to cut 380 items from the Governor’s proposed budget.
This post from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) cogently lays out the damage and consequences of these cuts on school districts, special education, and education more broadly.

Stay connected for our continued budget actions.

Legislative Contact Sheet (includes email addresses)

BUDGET PRIORITIES

Click here for our one-pager of budget priorities and testimony tips!

These priorities are adapted and updated from our non-partisan Vote Public values.



  • FUND PRIORITY NEEDS FIRST to meet the needs of every student and close the opportunity gaps for Black and brown students, students in poverty, students with disabilities and English learners.
    • Restore special education reimbursement to 60% (see the Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis of the special education reimbursement proposal in Governor Evers’s budget here)
    • Mental health support on a per-pupil system
    • English Language Learner (ELL) aid
    • Funding for rural needs, including broadband and transportation
    • Funding for COVID-related needs and a school nurse in every public school
  • FUNDING SHOULD BE ADEQUATE, SUFFICIENT, EQUITABLE, PREDICTABLE, AND FAIR. This means increasing per-pupil funding at least by an inflationary level.
  • ADDRESS WISCONSIN’S TEACHER CRISIS responsibly by providing funds for retention, recruitment, and “grow your own” educator programs.
  • MORATORIUM on funding for private and privately-operated schools that drain resources from public schools held fully accountable to taxpayers through elected school boards.
  • Funding should invest in closing Wisconsin’s gaps. A BUDGET THAT DOES NOT INVEST IN CLOSING OUR GAPS INVESTS IN MAKING THEM EVEN WIDER.

ABOUT THE 2021-2023 STATE BUDGET

Governor Evers’ Budget proposal (introduced 2/16/21):


Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s budget analysis:

Summary Document and summary tables:

Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Budget Proposal (submitted by State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor to Gov. Tony Evers, Nov. 2020)

DPI summaries (one-pagers) on specific budget proposal items:

Special Education Funding

Mental Health & Student Wellness 

Out-of-School Time Programs 

Public Libraries & Life Long Learning

Workforce Development – College & Career Ready

Summaries and reactions to DPI budget proposal:

SPEAK UP FOR KIDS

Joint Finance Committee Public Hearings
Budget testimony can be submitted in person at hearings, at the virtual hearing, in writing or by video. Official legislative hearings on the state budget will be held on the following dates:


From the JFC chairs: “The public hearings will begin at 10 am and conclude at 5 pm.  The format will be similar to past hearings. Management at each of the venues will monitor capacity. Those wishing to testify at the virtual hearing will be required to register in advance, details to come on the registration process. A portal is available for individuals to provide input: www.legis.wisconsin.gov/topics/budgetcomments as well as an email address budget.comments@legis.wisconsin.gov .”

DON’T JUST SPEAK UP….BE HEARD! We strongly encourage you to amplify your voice by sharing your testimony with members of the Joint Finance Committee, your own legislators, and your community.

Governor Evers will hold a series of “Badger Bounceback” live listening sessions on the budget March and April. The session on education is the Badger Bounceback Live Session on What’s Best for Our Kids  and will take place Thurs., April 8, 2021, at 6 p.m.  Register to attend here. 

Click here for a regularly updated list of opportunities to share budget concerns with specific lawmakers:

  • Thurs., March 18, 2021, at 6 p.m. Governor Evers’ Badger Bounceback Live Session on Economic Recovery & Opportunity. Register to attend here
  • Thurs., March 25, 2021 at 6 p.m. Governor Evers’ Badger Bounceback Live Session on Accessible & Affordable Healthcare.  Register to attend here
  • Tues., March 30, 2021, at 6 p.m.  Governor Evers’ Badger Bounceback Live Session on Transportation & Infrastructure. Register to attend here
  • Thurs., April 8, 2021, at 6 p.m.  Governor Evers’ Badger Bounceback Live Session on What’s Best for Our Kids Register to attend here
  • Wed., April 14, 2021, at 6 p.m.  Governor Evers’ Badger Bounceback Live Session on Justice Reform & Marijuana Legalization Register to attend here.  
  • Wed., April 21, 2021, at  6 p.m.  Governor Evers’ Badger Bounceback Live Session on Climate Change & Our Environment  Register to attend here.  

2021 WISCONSIN JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

  • Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), Co-Chair
  • Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), Co-Chair
  • Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), Vice Chair
  • Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton), Vice Chair
  • Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield)
  • Sen. Mary Felzowski (R-Irma)
  • Sen. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan)
  • Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls)
  • Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point)
  • Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee)
  • Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg)
  • Rep. Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls)
  • Rep. Jessie Rodriguez (R-Oak Creek)
  • Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc)
  • Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee)
  • Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine)

Our friends at the ACLU of Wisconsin have put together a helpful document of this year’s JFC members along with their photos and social media handles. See that here!

Our Legislative Contact Sheet (includes email addresses)

[NE Regional Opportunity] State Sen. André Jacques (R-De Pere) is hosting a series of listening sessions in the district on the budget and other legislative issues from April 9 to April 23: Press release with details here.

________________

Friday, March 19, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., State Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), State Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) and State Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) held a budget listening session in Belmont.


The Assembly Democrats also scheduled a series of virtual “Budget Action Meetings” throughout the month of March. According to the organizers, “The goals for each meeting are to 1) Highlight our members’ work and educate people about what is in the Badger Bounceback Budget, 2) Inspire people to participate in the budget process and take one concrete action, and 3) Provide ways to connect with partner groups about ongoing budget organizing. ” The schedule for the upcoming meetings is as follows:

Governor Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes held “People’s Budget Listening Sessions in Nov-Dec 2020. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS AND LINKS TO RECORDINGS.

  • Budget Listening Session on Healthcare and Public Health
    Tuesday, November 17 at 6 p.m. 
  • Budget Listening Session on Environment, Infrastructure, and the Economy
    Wednesday, December 2 at 6 p.m. 
  • Budget Listening Session on Criminal Justice Reform
    Tuesday, December 8 at 6 p.m.
  • Budget Listening Session on Our Schools and Education
    Wednesday, December 16 at 6 p.m.
    • There were at least 490 people in attendance, and the majority shared our concerns about meeting students’ needs. We heard a lot of support for special education funding, addressing Wisconsin’s teacher shortage, bilingual education needs, mental health, school nursing, early childhood funding, nutrition and more — including a number of people who were well-organized to speak in favor of additional charter spending.
    • CLICK HERE to see the recording on Wisconsin Eye

Gov. Evers’ People’s Maps Commission Hearings
Wisconsin’s legislative districts will be redrawn in 2021 following the publication of the 2020 US Census. Hearings on this process began in fall 2020, and the public is urged to submit testimony at the live virtual hearings or submit written comments here.

TAKE LOCAL ACTION!

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIONS:

CLOSING THE GAPS Workshop Series Resource Archives:

First Budget Action Workshop with the Wisconsin Public Education Network and the ACLU of Wisconsin: Saturday, January 23. If you missed the Workshop, would like to review the materials, or wish to share them with others, you can find everything you need here (and archived on our Budget HQ page):

  • Budget Action Workshop Participant Guide (includes agenda, budget overview, organizing readings, and regularly updated budget resources)
  • Printable worksheets for Small Group Storytelling Breakouts
  • Budget Action Workshop PowerPoint presentation (pdf)
  • Video of Jan. 23 Budget Action Workshop [note: video starts recording about 10 minutes into event]NOTE: We welcome you to use these resources to hold your own nonpartisan advocacy workshops or training events, provided that all of our materials are fully credited and distributed free of charge. If you’d like support in holding a local training or Budget Action Workshop, please contact Heather at hdb@WisconsinNetwork.org, or your Wisconsin Public Education Network regional organizer!

Second Budget Action Workshop with the Wisconsin Public Education Network and the ACLU of Wisconsin: Saturday, February 20. We unpacked Governor Evers’s newly-released state budget and started our local action planning. Archive:

Our communities face mounting challenges and critical needs as we adjust to schooling during a global pandemic. It’s never been more important to stand united to ensure our public schools have the resources they need to thrive. Let your community know what’s at stake for local students in the 2021-2023 state budget!


Join Wisconsin Public Education Network partners around the state to take action where YOU live to make a positive difference.

Wisconsin’s children are counting on us!