I watched with great interest the Governor’s biennial budget address on Tuesday, February 3. Following the proposal I have been asked many questions regarding the impact to the Mineral Point Unified School District. This letter is intended to briefly provide answers to the information requested.
Prior to the release of the proposed budget, Governor Walker stated public school funding would remain roughly the same as during the previous year. In reaction to the Governor’s comments, my approach was most conservative. I anticipated a per pupil revenue limit increase, most recently set at $75, to be reduced to $0. This assumption anticipated a revenue reduction, and necessary cuts to Mineral Point Schools in 2015-2016 were projected to be $19,260.
After reviewing portions of the actual 900 page executive budget report, I found myself in a moment of disbelief. The budget report clarifies that not only is the per pupil revenue limit remaining at $0, the proposal also calls for a categorical aid reduction of $150 per pupil, thereby increasing necessary Mineral Point budget cuts to a total of $126,211. The Governor did propose adding approximately $165 per pupil in categorical aid during the second year of the biennium, but the net effect following a loss of $150 in the first year and $150 in the second year creates an overall loss of approximately $135 per pupil over the biennium. Furthermore, the $165 would be a one-time payment that can only be used to temporarily reduce the tax levy, and not for staffing or programs with revenue limits remaining at $0.
Additionally, the Governor proposed removing the 1,000 student cap on private school vouchers. Vouchers, in the current proposal, would be funded from public school dollars. The financial impact is impossible to calculate at this time, but will certainly mean less state funding for K-12 public schools in Wisconsin.
State Assembly and Senate legislators are required to vote to approve a budget prior to it becoming official. Should you have questions or comments specific to this budget, you may wish to contact one or more of your legislators:
Senator Howard Marklein, Senate District 17 (R – Spring Green)
Office: Room 8 South, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53707
Telephone: (608) 266-0703, Email: Sen.Marklein@legis.wi.gov
Representative Todd Novak, Assembly District 51 (R – Dodgeville)
Madison Office: Room 304 North, State Capitol, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708
Telephone: (608) 266-7502, Email: Rep.Novak@legis.wisconsin.gov