Petryk column: Supporting our schools with increased funding
Right after the Joint Committee on Finance approved a slate of workforce development initiatives, they approved the largest actual dollars budget for K-12 education in Wisconsin state history.
As you know K-12 education has been one of my top priorities this session. Building off last session's $740 million increase in K-12 education, which the governor called "pro-kid," the Joint Finance Committee approved a motion to increase public school funding by $500 million. This continues the Assembly's trend of investing in our local schools (See chart).
This $500 million increase in funding means that over the next biennium we will be investing more than $12 billion into K-12 education, the largest spending item in the entire state budget. This historic increase targets the funding directly into the classrooms and helps rural schools in the 93rd Assembly District.
The budget includes:
• Per-pupil spending increases of $200 in the first year and $204 in the second year.
• $96 million increase (22%) in funding for special education, which is the first increase since 2008 and means the state reimburses schools more than the federal government for special education services.
• Provides $6 million in aid for school mental health services and an additional $6.5 million for school-based mental health collaboration grants.
• Fully funds high-cost transportation aides to help our rural districts with increasing transportation costs.
• Provides more monies to public libraries.
• Fully funds the school day milk program.
It is unfortunate that some continue the false claim that we are cutting support for our schools. This is simply not true as increased school funding is a top priority for me and my Legislative colleagues. The reforms passed by the Joint Finance Committee put substantially more resources into the classroom and provide more learning opportunities to our students. This, coupled with increased investment into our highly successful state Youth Apprenticeship program means that students will be better prepared to enter our state's outstanding workforce.