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Dems look at changing school funding

Almost every Democrat in the Wisconsin Legislature signed a resolution last year calling for changes in the way we pay for public schools.

And now that the party controls all of state government, those Democrats must now decide how far they want to go.

Rep. Corey Mason, D-Racine, says the answers will come after Gov. Jim Doyle proposes his next state budget in February.

That budget is already $5 billion in the red without new spending cuts or tax and fee hikes.

Still, Doyle says he wants to preserve funding for public schools for which the state pays almost two-thirds of their costs.

Mason - a new member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee - says there's a debate among his colleagues on how far to go.

Educators have long said Madison needs to something, because the state's 15-year-old revenue limits have forced good programs and teachers to fall by the wayside.

The state's largest teachers' union says it wants the government limits on school tax revenues and teacher pay and benefit increases.

Union president Mary Bell says the slumping economy should force politicians and the rest of us to at least talk about this, something a split Legislature has not done in recent years.