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Leave it to Evers: Tony’s tough lesson from malcontent educrats

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers just got a lesson in dealing with educrats. You would think the “education governor” would know better.

No amount of money is ever enough for the insatiable trough feeders in the public education establishment.

Evers, not happy with the $128 million in new state ed spending the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee wrote into the 2021-23 budget, promised to use $100 million of the approximately $2 billion in federal pandemic-related funding he controls to supplement K-12 spending.

He received nothing but groans from the education establishment.

Madison and other local school districts say the money won’t help them address “long-term budget challenges,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal. They complain that the money will only be used once.

The Madison School District, for instance, is likely to pocket an extra $3.4 million, or somewhere in the vicinity of $130 more per pupil, from the $100 million fund. But the district isn’t planning on using the money “to cover salary increases or other ongoing costs. Instead, the funds will be used to cover things like redesigning classrooms and addressing student mental health concerns,” the newspaper reports.

Before you weep for Madison’s fiscal misery, there are a few things you should know. The school district anticipates raising local property tax bills by nearly 4 percent, with an eye on a healthy 3.23 percent pay raise for teachers. Tax-and-spend-and-spend-some-more Madison liberals last year approved a $33 million operating referendum, which can be used for raises moving forward.

And the state’s second-largest school district will receive a sizeable cut of the $1.4 billion in the latest round of federal education funding. That money can be used on just about anything related to education — not merely COVID-19 safety initiatives.

Madison and the other disappointed districts can also use Evers’ cash dump on whatever they see fit to spend it on. Madison apparently has decided it put its $3.4 million toward infrastructure updates, mental health assistance, online learning, expanded wireless connectivity (remember, this district kept its students on failed virtual learning for more than a year), and “innovative learning spaces.”

The funds are fungible. And there are a lot of funds — record amounts to move around.

But all you’ll hear are complaints from the never-enough educrats.

Evers, a former educrat who served a decade as Wisconsin’s education superintendent, complained, too. He wanted more than $1 billion in additional state education spending than the final budget offers. Incredible. $1 billion-plus on top of billions in federal aid. He called the Republicans’ reasonable funding commitment — a much clearer understanding of the total funding picture — “paltry.”

Now his old education establishment pals are turning their collective nose up at Evers’ “gift.”

The “education governor” just got a valuable lesson on the bottomless pit that is Wisconsin’s public education system.

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