Information on Gov. Evers’ school funding reform proposal

In a recent blog post we provided a link to the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding.

Because some school board members have also requested information on the school funding reform plan proposed by Governor Tony Evers, we are providing links to the governor’s plan and information about it (see below).

Gov. Evers plans to make this funding reform proposal, which he refers to as the “Fair Funding for our Future” plan, part of the 2019-21 state budget bill he will be introducing later this month.  

According to the DPI, the “Fair Funding” proposal contains the following key provisions:

  • Shifts the funding for the School Levy Tax Credit, the First Dollar Credit, and High Poverty Aid to the General Equalization Aid Formula.
  • Provides an additional $596 million in state general equalization aids over the 2019-21 biennium ($190 million in 2019-20 and $406 million in 2020-21 over the 2018-19 base).
  • Sets a minimum aid level of $3,000 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student for every student in every district.
  • Weights economically disadvantaged students in all school districts by an additional 20 percent FTE within the General Aid Formula for per pupil property valuation purposes only.
  • Includes a new $5.8 million hold harmless provision in 2020-21 to ensure that every school district receives the same amount of total state support under the “Fair Funding”  plan as it would have otherwise received under current law.
  • Increases the current secondary cost ceiling from 90 percent of the state average shared cost per student to 100 percent of the state average.
  • Increases the current special adjustment aid provision from 85 percent to 90 percent of each district’s prior year state general aid.

In addition, Evers’ proposal calls for increasing special education categorical aid by $606 million in the 2019-21 biennium.  This increase is projected to boost the percentage of eligible prior year special education costs reimbursed by this aid from about 24.5 percent  currently to an estimated 30 percent in 2019-20 and an estimated 60 percent in 2020-21.

Evers’ “Fair Funding” proposal would increase funding for student mental health by nearly $64 million, a tenfold increase.  It further calls for fully funding full-day 4K; creating the state’s first funding stream for afterschool programs, and achieving two-thirds state funding of public schools without raising property taxes.

  • The entire 2019-21 biennial budget request of the Department of Public Instruction, including the “Fair Funding for our Future” funding reform proposal can be found here
  • In addition, a district-by-district printout detailing the fiscal impact on each school districts of the “Fair Funding” proposal can be found here.  (This printout was generated by the DPI in September 2018 shortly after the department’s 2019-21 budget request was submitted. It was based on the most current numbers available at the time it was produced. Those numbers may have changed somewhat since then, but conceptually, the plan has not changed.)

A NOTE regarding the printout: The Fair Funding proposal includes shifting both the existing School Levy Tax Credit (funded at $940 million in 2018-19) and the First Dollar Credit (funded at $150 million in 2018-19) into the General Aid formula in 2018-19. However, $150 million in funding for the First Dollar Credit in 2018-19 is not reflected in this printout as such credits are not allocated by school district on a statewide basis.  Further, while actual data for the 2017-18 School Levy Tax Credit was not yet available when the printout was created, the simulation estimates the School Levy Tax Credit for each district to ensure that the $87 million increase provided in the 2017-19 biennial budget is included for comparison purposes.