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WI Policy Forum: State’s share of public spending rising

WI Policy Forum: State’s share of public spending rising

The following is from a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum:

“Because of higher state spending in areas like health care for low-income residents and slower growth in local government and school district revenues, the latest Census Bureau data show state government expenditures are now almost equal to the combined amount spent by schools, municipalities, counties, technical colleges, and other local governments in Wisconsin. The effects of the pandemic are unclear but the trend should be considered by policymakers as they contemplate COVID-19 responses and the next state budget.

“In other words, the balance of spending in Wisconsin has shifted to something much closer to an even split between local government services (such as K-12 schools, police and fire, local roads, and housing) and state services (such as health care for low-income residents, prisons, state highways, and the University of Wisconsin System). (more…)

Gov. Evers orders additional state spending cuts due to COVID-19

Gov. Evers orders additional state spending cuts due to COVID-19

Gov. Tony Evers today directed the Department of Administration (DOA) to identify $250 million in cost savings at state agencies for the current fiscal year.  He had previously ordered a 5% cut to state operations in late April. From a release from the Governor’s office:

“The governor’s proactive directive is an effort to ensure the state is in a stronger position to weather revenue impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, while also ensuring critical services remain accessible to Wisconsin residents. Earlier this summer, also at the direction of Gov. Evers, DOA announced the implementation of $70 million in cost savings for FY19-20 across 18 of Wisconsin’s largest state agencies. (more…)

Politics swirls around debate over additional federal aid for schools

With the U.S. Senate set to debate a fifth COVID-19 supplemental spending bill next week, the politics around providing additional federal help for schools has become intertwined with the politics of reopening schools.

President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have made no secret of their desire to condition any new money for schools on whether or not they reopen for 5 day-a-week in-person learning. And yesterday, the Washington Post reported that:

The White House and Senate Republicans are developing plans to prod schools to reopen by attaching incentives or conditions to tens of billions of dollars of new aid as part of the next coronavirus relief bill.”

These discussions about attaching conditions to any new aid come as a growing number of districts have already said they’re planning to start the school year using remote or virtual instruction rather than in-person classes.  (more…)

U.S. Senate Dems propose big boost in federal aid for schools in response to COVID-19

Last week, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee, and 17 Senate Democratic colleagues, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), introduced the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA). 

The bill (numbered as S. 4112) is seen as Senate Democrats’ opening bid in the debate with Senate Republicans over providing additional COVID-19 stimulus funding for education.

(more…)

U.S. Senate may be moving toward more emergency federal aid for schools

Following a relatively quiet June on Capitol Hill, Congress is expected to be very busy in July as they race to complete important work – including passing another COVID-19 emergency response bill – before the lengthy August recess begins on August 7.

This is an opportunity for school leaders to seek substantial federal funding to help schools reopen safely this fall, amid huge financial uncertainty caused by declining state tax revenues.  Without such federal assistance, the prospect of dramatic cuts to state school aid looms large as states look to trim their budgets. (more…)

DPI releases July 1 aid estimates (assuming no COVID-19 impact)

DPI releases July 1 aid estimates (assuming no COVID-19 impact)

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has released July 1 aid estimates for public school districts. These are estimates of the general school aids for the 2020-21 school year with the planned increases included in the state budget when it was passed last year. With the full effect to state tax collections from the COVID-19 pandemic still unknown, there is much uncertainty as to whether school districts will ultimately receive what is estimated here. If tax collections take a big enough hit to trigger a budget repair bill, these amounts will likely be significantly impacted. (more…)