Empower Wisconsin | Feb. 10, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
No amount of your tax money will ever be enough to fund the Democrat’s bigger-government agenda.
After the Republican-controlled Legislature signed off on two record K-12 education spending budgets encompassing four years, Evers now wants to give $250 million of the projected $620 million surplus to the Department of Public Instruction — his old stomping ground.
The funding, Evers says, would increase funding for school-based mental health services and special education aid. And he wants to “restore” the state’s previous two-thirds commitment funding formula for public schools, which sounds like something until you learn that state funding is nearly there now.
“Every kid deserves access to high-quality, public education regardless of their identity, economic status, or zip code,” Evers tweeted.
Unfortunately, a lot of kids aren’t receiving a high-quality, public education now, and that doesn’t have much to do with money. Even after record spending, the latest state-wide test scores show 43 percent of students are proficient in math, and 41 percent in English. The scores drop significantly for black and Hispanic students.
A new report shows nearly half of all high school juniors in Wisconsin aren’t ready for college, with the state’s average ACT scores below college entrance thresholds.
Scores of schools, including 28 in Milwaukee alone, are failing to meet minimal expectations.
The average amount of state funding per student is $13,505, but only a little more than half of that goes toward classroom instruction, according to the MacIver Institute. A lot of money goes into central services, maintenance, rising debt service, as well as rising insurance costs and post-employment benefit debt for educators and staff. Administrative pay takes up a nearly 8 percent slice of the education pie.
Evers, who spent a decade leading Wisconsin’s public schools, knows all about throwing good money after bad. If it’s all about the kids, as he insists, why isn’t more taxpayer money ending up in the classroom? How much more would be diverted from educating children if the Legislature played along with Nap-and-Spend Tony’s plan?
Republican leadership, at least as of last week, isn’t playing along. They’ve talked about giving taxpayers their money back, mainly through property tax relief, and paying down state debt.
“Every time the state has surplus revenue, Republicans look for ways to return that money to taxpayers. Democrats keep looking for ways to spend your money,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) tweeted. “Senate Republicans have been focused since late last year on using our surplus for a tax cut for hard-working families, and the governor knows that. I don’t see us budging off that position. It appears that the teachers’ unions are the ones calling all the shots in the East Wing.”
Even if Republicans agreed to Evers’ proposal, the governor would soon be back with his hand out. For this grow-government governor, no amount of spending will ever be enough.
Empower Wisconsin’s Josh Waldoch contributed