Thursday, May 27, 2021

WisGOPs threaten billions in funding for Wis schools. Stupid, or evil?

Wanted to follow up from yesterday's post about the Joint Finance Committee's budget hearing on K-12 education in Wisconsin, because it's gotten crazier today, with several billion dollars that are now up in the air.

A day before this meeting, Senator Jon Erpenbach’s office received a memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau that described the amount of state support that is required to receive the billions in federal stimulus funds for education. And the ARPA stimulus uses a threshold is based on the percentage of overall state tax dollars that are dedicated to education.
The Department of Administration submitted baseline state and education expenditures data to the federal government on May 17, 2021. Total state spending includes all GPR expenditures, excluding transfers, as shown in the state's annual fiscal report. Total K-12 spending includes actual expenditures on general aids, GPR categorical aids, and funding for the state's choice and charter programs, less lapses made to fund the choice and charter programs. For the higher education calculation, GPR expenditures for the UW System, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and the Higher Educational Aids Board are included, excluding funding for UW debt service and UW research, plus UW SEG funding. For all three programs, actual expenditures are used, so funds that are appropriated but not expended are not included in the calculations. Based on these calculations, to meet the CAA and ARPA maintenance of effort requirements, the state's GPR expenditures on K12 school aids must be equal to or greater than 35.28% of total GPR expenditures in each year of the 2021-23 biennium. The state's GPR expenditures on higher education must be equal to or greater than 8.87% of GPR expenditures in each year of the biennium.
So if overall state spending is increased (due to inflation or other needs), then spending for education also has to increase, in order to legally use all of the federal money.

The LFB says that based on where the budget stood at the end of last week, based on Joint Finance actions that have already would back a lot of spending to the base levels of 2021, K-12 spending would need to increase by a total of $387 million over the next 2 years. And Republicans on the Finance Committee said they were surprised to find out that the maintenance of effort meant that state funds had to be added.

Well, you should be reading this blog guys. I was talking about the MOE 6 weeks ago, when I read it in that memo. Guess I should know that a group of people who hate real education wouldn't do their homework.

Naturally, the Republicans might not even get to that level of state investment, according to the budget motion that they passed today.

Wisconsin schools would get $128 million in general purpose revenue over the next two years, a fraction of what Dem Gov. Tony Evers originally proposed, under a motion the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee approved today.

The GOP motion, approved 11-4 along party lines, also would transfer $350 million to the state’s budget stabilization fund that could be tapped later for K-12 education as well as other purposes….

The motion includes no new state money for the general school aids, the largest pot of money for districts. It accounts for $4.9 billion in state aid to schools in the current school year.
Let me repeat that $350 million goes to the RAINY DAY FUND, which means it could go anywhere. Or, as Evers' spokewoman notes, nowhere.

That likely puts the total K-12 spending under the threshold that the stimulus bill requires for the state to legally use the $2.4 billion sent to the state by the Feds.

It’s incredibly stupid, so bad that it is encouraging me to do something that is also likely stupid. Because I’m going to give the GOPs advice on how they can better do this in a way that will likely be OK under the rules of the stimulus.

1. If they want to have a $350 million contingency fund for schools, just allocate it to DPI, but not have the extra money released until June, 2023. And reduce the base number for the 2023-24 school year by the same amount. Yes, these funds need to be eventually sent out and used, but if the state funds come out in a given fiscal year and are spent, wouldn’t that count as part of the maintenance of effort requirements?

2. WisGOPs also could have chosen to increase state funding to schools by $350 million, but barely increase or even reduce revenue limits, which would constrain how much money public schools can get (stupid, but WisGOPs like em stupid). This would be a backdoor property tax cut, much like what was done in 2014 where $406 million in state funds added to the state’s technical colleges, without having the tech colleges increase their spending.

But nooooo, the WisGOPs are so petty and/or bought off that they did it this idiotic way, and now are now going to have to make more changes to education funding as the budget moves through the process. Or are they going to try to shove this through and risk losing all of this federal help for schools, as a dare to try to goad Evers into vetoing the whole budget (which frankly he should if the GOP keeps playing these games)?

Or is risking the loss of billions in stimulus funds the GOP’s plan? Don’t put that possibility by those lowlifes. WisGOPs don’t want things to get better before the 2022 elections, because that would help the chances of Evers and Dems in general, and causing major cuts and/or property tax increases for public schools due to a lack of state/fed revenues would go a long way toward that “goal.”


  1. Stupid or evil?

    I pick both!

  2. I wish we heard more frequently from Britt Cudaback.