State budget expected to be taken up by senate in about two weeks
Posted June 5, 2013
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) adopted the GOP Education package on a 12-4 party line vote at about 6:15 a.m. this morning (June 5). Key highlights of that package include:
Vouchers: Statewide expansion of vouchers, but limited to 500 students statewide in 2013-14 and 1,000 students statewide in 2014-15. In addition, the proposal would place a cap on the number of students who may receive vouchers of 1 percent in any one district in any single year and a maximum family income eligibility cap equal to 185 percent of federal poverty level. Schools must have been in operation on May 1, 2013 to qualify to participate in the voucher program in the 2013-15 biennium. The package also set per-pupil payments for 2014-15 at $7,210 for grades K-8 and $7,858 for grades 9-12.
There will be no aid reduction under the expanded program or in the Racine program. With respect to the Milwaukee voucher program, the package phases out the current 38.4 percent aid deduction over a 12-year period, with annual decreases of 3.2 percent in the aid deduction. The bill sets up timelines for new private schools to submit intent to participate and other information. If the DPI determines that the sum of pupil applications reported by all private schools is more than the pupil participation limit, it must notify the 25 schools with the most applications that they may participate in the program. DPI must allocate 10 seats to each of the 25 schools, and must select pupils for those 10 seats at each school by random drawing. The other 250 seats are to be filled by random drawing among the remaining pupils applying to those schools, with preferences given to siblings.
Revenue Limits and State Aid: The JFC package provides a $75 per-pupil increase in revenue limit in each year ($130 million in new revenue limit authority statewide) along with $75 per-pupil in categorical aid payment in each year, with number of pupils in each district determined by a three-year rolling average membership. This creates a sum sufficient GPR appropriation to make these categorical aid payments, which will be received outside the revenue cap and thus may be spent. (The JFC’s actions increase general equalization aid by $40 million above the $129 million the governor proposed and provide $190.5 million in new categorical aid. Overall, the biennial increase is $177.5 due to the deletion of $64 million in performance incentive grants the governor had proposed. See below.)
Private School Tuition Tax Deduction: Create an income tax deduction for up to $4,000 tuition per-pupil at the K-8 grades and up to $10,000 tuition per-pupil in grades 9-12 paid to a private or religious school, starting in 2014-15. (Estimated annual cost: $30 million; average deduction: $300.)
Independent Charter Provisions: Allow UW-Milwaukee to authorize additional independent charter schools in the five counties surrounding Milwaukee County. (UW-M thus becomes the regional chartering entity. Students from any of the five counties could attend any independent charter school within those five counties. Currently only MPS resident students can attend the independent charters located in Milwaukee and only Racine Unified district residents can attend the independent charter authorized by the UW-Parkside.)
Educator Effectiveness: Approve the Governor’s recommendation to provide state funding to implement the new teacher and principal evaluation system.
Freeze on Fund 80 Levies: Prohibit a district from levying more for community service activities in 2013-14 and 2014-15 than it did in 2012-13. Require districts using a community service levy in 2013-14 and 2014-15 to identify in its budget summary for its annual meeting the expenditures that will be funded from that levy and statement as to how these expenditures meet the allowable criteria for use of the community service fund. Require school districts to post the 2013-14 information on its website within 60 days of the effective date of the budget act.
High-Cost Pupil Transportation Aid: Provide $5 million for high-cost pupil transportation aid to districts that incur prior year pupil transportation costs that exceed 150 percent of statewide per member average.
Revenue Limit Adjustment for Energy Efficiency Projects: Allow State Trust Fund loans to be used for energy efficiency measures and require that any measured utility costs avoided as the result of an energy efficiency project authorized by a school district after the effective date of the budget act be applied to retiring the bonds or notes issued to finance the project.
Rehired Annuitants: Modified yet again to adopt Alternative 2 in LFB Paper #259: 75 day break-in-service period, two-thirds standard, applies the two-thirds standard to contracted employees and adopts the DETF process for administering the accounts of rehired annuitants.
Provisions Deleted from Governor’s Original Proposal:
• School performance incentive grants,
• Special needs vouchers, and
• Independent charter oversight board and charter school contract provisions.
The WASB will continue to provide updates on the 2013-15 State Budget as it becomes available.