Monday, June 19, 2017

Senate GOP K-12 plan has familiar problem- WHERE'S THE MONEY?

Even though the 2017 Fiscal Year ends a week from Friday, there is still plenty left to decide on the 2-year state budget that is supposed to be in place for July 1 (even though it likely won't be in place). One of the biggest items of debate involves K-12 spending, where Assembly Republicans came out with a plan a couple of weeks ago that would allow for some reallocation of money that would give more flexibility for districts who are currently not allowed to spend as much per student as richer and larger districts (I discussed much of this proposal in this post).

Well today, we found out through the Journal-Sentinel's Jason Stein that the Senate GOP is working out a K-12 plan of their own. Like the Assembly GOP, the Senate GOP plans would push more money toward school districts with low revenue and spending limits, but it wouldn’t use property taxes to do it.
GOP senators have come up with an education framework that would use state money to help those districts — meeting part of the Assembly's goal — while also accommodating Walker's target of holding the line on property taxes.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) confirmed the plan and said he and his colleagues are still discussing how much state money to pour into it.

"It's the same concept that the Assembly had targeted," Fitzgerald said. But "the state would pay for it."
If the Senate GOP wants to trade state funds for extra funding and keep property taxes down, that makes sense in theory. Except there’s one big thing missing- THERE’S NO STATE MONEY TO GIVE OUT.

As I’ve mentioned several times throughout this budget process, Scott Walker’s original 2017-19 budget had only $12 million in breathing room built into it, and a $1 billion deficit looms for the next budget. And with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau saying last month that they saw no need to increase revenue projections, and some expenses being re-estimated to end up costing more than what was projected in the budget, that tightness hasn’t subsided over the 4 months this budget has been debated.

Now, maybe some funds can be cleared up by getting rid of Gov Walker’s stupid plans for a sales tax holiday, and perhaps legislators could avoid losing $200 million in revenue to give a $1-a-week income tax cut. And maybe that extra money is enough to have the state backfill this revenue limit increase to low-spending schools.

But we haven't heard that the WisGOPs are going to dump the $1-a-week income tax gimmick, and even if they do, using state money to give relief to low-revenue districts means extra spending will be projected in the next budget (and there already isn’t enough state funding to pay for what's already on the books, let alone more). So there’s a connected shoe to drop here on taxes, either in the 2017-19 budget talks, or in the next 2 years. Because the math tells you that there is no way that WisGOP can continue all of these pre-election property tax handouts and the related state spending increases without raising taxes on someone in some other fashion.

That part of the shell game is what we have to watch for in these coming weeks, because that’s likely to be buried in some late-night maneuver that WisGOP isn’t going to want to promote. I’m not seeing how else they can pull off their big talk of “lower taxes and more spending.”


  1. I've been calling my state representatives to remind them that state government agencies are invariably overstaffed by up to 20%, some probably more. Some smart, targeted cuts could easily free up enough funds to increase spending in the area of education. I would hope to see some Democratic support of a plan of this type, given the pro-education stance they have. Just an idea!

    1. Your jealousy of people that passed the exams you flunked is duly noted, Bradley Boy.

      However, you do have a point. There are a ton of $80K to $125K Walker/WISGOP flunkies roaming the halls as "policy advisors" and administrators of programs, and they really don't care about helping Wisconsinites or improving efficiency, so they can get booted off the taxpayer teat. But you might not like that, since a no-talent Bradley hack like you has that as your career advancement plan.

      But combine that with dumping the WEDC handouts and the M&A giveaway, and not only do we have more money for K-12, we'll probably add more jobs because the idle rich won't be able to hoard so much and buy fewer politicians.

      You understand I only post your crap if I feel like clowning your dead-end, no-pride self, right?