The House Committee on Ways and Means convened this afternoon in a “markup” session to begin consideration of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a tax reform package that would slash corporate income tax rate and some individual income tax rates and raise the standard deduction, offsetting the cost by eliminating some cherished itemized deductions. The legislation is the first draft of a bill for tax reform and is expected to be under consideration by the Committee throughout this week with many possible amendments likely to be taken up. (A markup session is the name given to when a Congressional committee or subcommittee meets to debate, amend or rewrite a bill. The committee has the option of either accepting or rejecting the final version of the bill that comes out of the markup session.)
Several of bill’s provisions would likely impact school districts in a negative way. These include:
Continue reading Key House Committee Begins Deliberations on Federal Tax Reform Package
After bolstering their majorities in both houses of the state legislature, GOP legislative leaders gave some glimpses into what may be their priorities for the next legislative session which begins in January. Molly Beck of the WI State Journal writes “Wisconsin Republicans could put more money toward schools” as part of that agenda:
“It’s about reform,” said (Senate Majority Leader Scott) Fitzgerald. “I think that’s what we’ve kind of demonstrated to the citizens of Wisconsin. … This Republican Legislature continues to tackle big things.”
Fitzgerald said that means lawmakers may look at putting more money into K-12 schools and the University of Wisconsin System — after cutting funding from them in previous budgets. But he didn’t offer specifics Wednesday. He said part of that is a shift in attitude toward school funding on the part of Gov. Scott Walker.
“When we took over back in 2011, we pushed bold reforms. They worked,” Walker said in a statement. “Since then, we gained seats in the Legislature in 2012, 2014, and now in 2016. Looking ahead, we will invest more to help every child succeed.”
Continue reading State Journal: GOP Leaders Offer Glimpse of K-12 Agenda After Election Victories
According to their recently released Forward Agenda, Assembly Republicans want to explore the concept of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) under which taxpayer-funded grants would be given to parents and placed in these accounts to be used for education-related expenses, including private school tuition.
According to Molly Beck of the Wisconsin State Journal, similar savings accounts are used in five states — Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee. Most of these programs are a new phenomenon. Only the Arizona & Florida ESAs existed in the 2014-15 school year. Typically these programs have income and other eligibility restrictions for participation. Nevada is the only state that has implemented a program that allows any parent — regardless of income or a child’s disability — to use the accounts provided their child has attended a public school for at least 100 days.
Continue reading Assembly GOP to Consider Education Savings Accounts
State Assembly Republicans unveiled their goals for the next legislative session, labelled the Forward Agenda and focusing on the economy, education and public safety, on Wednesday at a Capitol press conference.
The education proposal garnering the most media attention is a plan to provide a tablet or laptop computer to every high school freshman in the state, regardless of their income or whether they attend a public, private or charter school. Included in the plan is an initiative allowing students without internet access at home to check out portable wi-fi hot spots from their school. Another idea raised in the plan is to begin providing wi-fi capabilities on school buses. Continue reading Assembly Republicans Unveil Legislative Agenda for 2017-18