Recent state and federal moves on e-rate funds raise caution flags

Among other state budget actions, the Joint Finance Committee voted along party-lines last week to transfer $22 million in federal e-rate funds (which are meant to support telecommunications services in schools and libraries–the “e” in e-rate stands for “education”) in each year of the budget to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The amount transferred is $19.8 million more than what the Governor’s budget had proposed.

While this may be viewed by some as good news for rural areas that currently lack adequate broadband (high-speed internet) connections, it could spell concerns for schools and libraries in the future. Continue reading Recent state and federal moves on e-rate funds raise caution flags

JFC finishes work on state budget

The legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee (JFC) finished its work on the 2019-21 state budget on June 13.  The budget now heads to each house of the state legislature–Assembly first, then Senate–for consideration before heading to Gov. Evers.

The Assembly plans to take up the budget on Tuesday, June 25 with the Senate following on the 26th or 27th according to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in a press conference touting the JFC proposal. Continue reading JFC finishes work on state budget

Assembly education committee schedules meeting on June 13

The Assembly Committee on Education, chaired by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), has scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, June 13 on a pair of bills that stem from the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding.   Both bills are authored by Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and sponsored by Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green).

UPDATE: Assembly Bill 224 was removed from the hearing agenda. Only Assembly Bill 223 was heard.

The hearing will be held in Room 417 North (GAR Hall) of the State Capitol, beginning at 11:01 a.m on the following bills: Continue reading Assembly education committee schedules meeting on June 13

JFC-approved transportation budget dips further into state’s general fund

Last night, the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) passed a transportation budget plan to boost state transportation spending by $483.7 million over the next two fiscal years.

The JFC-approved plan relies in part on increases to title and registration fees and a $90 million transfer from the state’s general fund.  That transfer is a departure from historical practices and deserves attention. Continue reading JFC-approved transportation budget dips further into state’s general fund

WASB Bill Tracking Chart updated with non-budget legislation

While our main focus so far this legislative session has been on the state budget, separate legislation impacting school districts continue to be introduced.  We are continually updating our WASB State Bill Tracking Chart as new bills are released so please check it regularly.

The chart can be found on the header menu of this blog under “WASB Resources” and on our main website, WASB.org, under Services & Resources>>>Advocacy & Government Relations>>>State Bill Tracking Chart.

Examples of some recently added bills include: Continue reading WASB Bill Tracking Chart updated with non-budget legislation

Updated WASB Budget Chart posted

The WASB Budget Chart has been updated to detail the actions taken to date by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC)  on K-12 education-related provisions in the  proposed  2019-21 state budget. You can find the chart here.

For each budget item, the chart describes the proposal at each stage in the process and the dollar amounts attached to it.  In separate columns, the chart shows the DPI budget request, if any, the governor’s proposal, if any, and the JFC action on each item. Continue reading Updated WASB Budget Chart posted

JFC action ups voucher payments, open enrollment transfer amounts

While increases in allowable spending for nearly all public schools will be capped at $200 per pupil in 2019-20 and $204 per pupil in 2020-21,  private schools that participate in the state’s voucher programs will see their voucher payments increase by an estimated $229 per pupil in 2019-20 and an estimated $275 per pupil in 2020-21 under the omnibus K-12 education budget motion adopted by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) on May 23.

The JFC rejected the governor’s proposal to limit annual adjustments in voucher payments to the combination of the per pupil increase, if any, in revenue limits in that school year and in the per pupil increase in per pupil categorical aid paid to school districts between the previous school year and the current school year.  Under that proposal, the increase in voucher payments would have been limited to the same $200 and $204 per pupil increases public schools will receive. Continue reading JFC action ups voucher payments, open enrollment transfer amounts