Legislative Update – June 21

GOP legislative leaders are expected to continue meeting behind closed doors today, after spending much time Tuesday hammering out a budget deal on K-12 education, taxes and transportation. There’s a possibility the Joint Finance Committee meeting will meet Thursday, with K-12 education on the agenda. With competing school funding plans, they’re looking for agreement on per-pupil funding levels and approaches to low revenue limits, among other things.

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Don’t restrict school referendums, increase state funding, committee told

School officials and other supporters of public education spoke out Thursday against a package of bills that would severely restrict the ability of local school districts to raise needed funds through referendums. At a hearing on the bills, they blamed cuts in state funding of public education for the financial challenges faced by school districts and the rise in local referendums. “The level of referendums would drop significantly if the state would get behind real education reform,” Baraboo School Board Member Doug Mering told the Assembly’s Education Committee.

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Legislative Update – June 15

The Joint Finance Committee unanimously nixed the governor’s plan to move state workers to self-insurance, after halting meetings for over a week, saying it was risky and they can find other ways to insure schools. “I’m happy we were able to do that without sticking it to state employees,” Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, told Madison insiders. Other topics include the debate over K-12 funding, referendum restrictions and private school vouchers.

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Report urges policy-makers to make rural schools a higher priority

A new 50-state report urges state and federal leaders to make rural students and their communities a far greater priority and notes that Wisconsin rural schools receive far less state support than the national average. “While some rural schools thrive, far too many rural students face nothing less than a national emergency,” said Robert Mahaffey, the executive director of the non-profit Rural School and Community Trust, which produced the report titled Why Rural Matters.

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