State Budget

Ian Freimuth / Flickr

While several high profile and controversial measures in the Governor’s proposed budget have worked their way through the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, other parts of the budget are still up for debate.

One such issue is a measure that would cap the amount of money available through Wisconsin’s Historic Tax Credits program, which provides incentives for builders and developers to rehabilitate historic buildings.

FRANK JUAREZ / FLICKR

The Milwaukee School Board will hold its first meeting Thursday since the Legislature’s budget committee approved several items that could greatly impact MPS. Perhaps the biggest would be the creation of a Recovery School District. 

It would give an independent commissioner oversight over failing MPS schools. At Thursday night’s school board meeting, members are expected to discuss giving the MPS superintendent similar powers.

Milwaukee School Board member Larry Miller says the state budget language stunned him.

Althouse

The Legislature's budget committee on Wednesday morning undid Gov. Walker's cut to K-12 schools while approving an expansion of the state's voucher school program.  

The Joint Finance committee worked into the night and restored all of the $127 million cut the governor had proposed for the first year of the two-year budget.

In addition, the panel approved a measure that would allow $100 per student in funding for the second year of the budget.

Marzky Ragsac Jr., Fotolia

Hot-button issues came before the Legislature’s Joint Finance committee on Tuesday. Many votes fell along party lines, with Republicans approving items in Gov. Walker’s budget and Democrats resisting, unsuccessfully.

The committee approved one of Gov. Walker’s proposals that would require certain residents seeking unemployment benefits, food stamps or Medicaid coverage to be tested for substance use. Those who fail could keep their benefits if they enrolled in taxpayer-funded treatment.

State Rep. Dale Kooyenga explained his support for the plan.

Marti Mikkelson

Wisconsin might end its Chapter 220 program. It started decades ago to integrate public schools in the Milwaukee area. A federal judge ruled in 1976 that they were unconstitutionally segregated.

Gov. Walker wants to phase out Chapter 220 over a 12 year period; he cites minimal participation. On Tuesday, the legislature’s budget committee will vote. We spoke with people who hold strong opinions about the program.

Gov. Walker spent time in New Orleans Monday, touting plans to expand Wisconsin’s school voucher program. Tuesday, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will debate his proposal.

While Wisconsin may open its voucher program to more students, not many other states are headed in that direction.

ThoseGuys119, flickr

On Tuesday, the legislature’s budget committee will vote on funding for K-12 schools. One item Gov. Walker has included is a phase-out of Chapter 220. He says participation is minimal.

Wisconsin created the program to integrate public schools in Milwaukee, after a federal judge declared them segregated in 1976.  The state hailed Chapter 220 as a voluntary way to desegregate Milwaukee’s public schools. It paid for black and white students to attend schools farther away from home, in order to make them more racially balanced.

Milwaukee Public Schools will hold the final public hearing Thursday on its proposed budget for next school year. The district faces a $29-million deficit brought on by falling state and federal aid.

Gov. Walker has proposed cutting $127 million from public schools next year. That number could change when lawmakers take up K12 spending in coming weeks, but if it doesn’t, MPS would lose $12 million. On top of that, Superintendent Darienne Driver says the district’s federal funding is going down by $17 million.

Republicans in Madison have dialed back one of Gov. Walker’s spending cuts for public radio and television. The Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday voted to reduce state aid to the Educational Communications Board by about $2.3 million. Walker had proposed a cut about twice that size.

The Educational Communications Board partners with UW Extension to operate Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television. The board also manages emergency alert systems and develops Wisconsin-specific educational materials for K12 schools. WUWM in Milwaukee is not affiliated with the ECB.

Gov. Walker has asked legislators to abandon his proposal to merge WEDC and WHEDA, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

The Legislative Audit Bureau released a study Friday morning indicating that the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, WEDC, has not complied with Wisconsin law.

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