Fair Funding for Our Future
Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers doesn’t have the only school-funding reform plan introduced to legislators, but his plan — “Fair Funding for Our Future“ — has the most visibility. Evers is, after all, a constitutionally established state official and he introduced the plan two years ago.
Additionally, the plan works: It takes a step forward, if properly funded, toward the day when resources are aligned with the needs of children and what we expect them to know and be able to do.
Visualize Wisconsin’s school-funding system as a vessel that is meant to hold water. Well, our vessel has many holes and the water continues to leak out. “Fair Funding for Our Future” plugs most of the holes if enough water is poured into it.
“Fair Funding for Our Future” was designed so that even in difficult economic times we can protect schools and enact school finance reform while holding the line on property taxes. It is just a matter of prioritizing public policy to construct a rational school-funding system that aligns state and local resources with the needs of children and the high expectations and standards we have for them.
The State Superintendent sets that priority and starts down the road to higher quality education for all of Wisconsin’s young people:
- • This plan is realistic and ready, providing solutions that are good education and public policy, as well as politically viable.
- • It is a powerful first step that makes long overdue changes to the funding formula, maximizes existing resources, and sets the stage for greater state support in future years.
Economic impact ─The details of the plan are carefully designed (these numbers are from the version of the plan introduced two years ago):
Every school district will receive more state aid, which will reduce their gross property tax levy.
- • Over 93% of school districts are outright winners under this plan, and for $7 million it will hold harmless the 30 districts that do not do better.
- • This proposal will deliver an even bigger school property tax reduction than when the State instituted two-thirds funding back in 1996–and for a lot less money.
- • This is the smallest K-12 budget request in over a decade.
Elements of the plan ─This plan fixes the funding formula and holds the line on property taxes by (as proposed in the first version of “Fair Funding for Our Future introduced two years ago; Evers will introduce his new version in November of 2012):
- • Guaranteeing a minimum amount of state funding for every student ($3,000), providing vital resources to the 54 school districts that currently receive little or no state aid.
- • Incorporating a poverty-factor into the formula (20 percent), accounting for families’ ability to pay—not just their property value.
- • Making technical formula changes that strengthen rural, declining enrollment and negatively aided districts by increasing the secondary cost ceiling and hold harmless level.
- • Establishing predictable growth in state aids (greater of 2 percent or CPI), creating a more sustainable and well-aligned funding structure.
- • Maintaining the former growth in revenue limits (+$200 per pupil), which provides a modest increase in school spending while protecting taxpayers.
- • Ending the school funding shell game by redirecting the school levy tax credit, which does not directly pay for one child to be educated, into general school aids, increasing transparency and directing state support back into the classroom.
- • Making the system more rational by consolidating categorical aids around our areas of greatest need, increasing accountability and maximizing resources in difficult economic times.
Click here to learn more about “Fair Funding for Our Future.”