Capitol sources indicate that there is agreement on a package of K-12 education items which would include restoring the per pupil aid cut in the first year of the budget, providing an additional $100 per pupil in the second year of the budget (likely in per pupil categorical aid), allowing statewide voucher expansion funded like open enrollment from public school aids, creating special needs vouchers, allowing independent charter expansion, and a takeover of certain schools in Milwaukee. These issues will be addressed in an omnibus motion some time today and reflects a deal hammered out by lawmakers behind closed doors late last night. Details are scarce at this point but it looks overall like a “mixed bag” budget for public schools at best.
While lawmakers will be certain to champion the funding restoration and increase in the second year, it is likely that public schools will lose a significant amount of that funding through voucher and charter expansion. As mentioned in a previous post, according to a national expert, this budget will likely see Wisconsin fall below the national average for per pupil funding for the first time ever. This is a truly disappointing trend for Wisconsin as the vast majority of other states are increasing funding for public schools by 4 to 4.5 percent per year.
The Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to go into executive session at 1pm (delayed from 10am) today to vote on these items. You can watch live coverage on Wisconsin Eye or follow along on the Wispolitics Budget Blog. WASB staff will update you here with information as soon as it is available.