Continuous Advocacy: Unmet Needs & Ongoing Challenges

By John Forester | July 11, 2019

Since Governor Evers signed the 2019-21 State Budget last week, several SAA members have shared with me that their legislators had reached out asking if the budget was “good” for their districts.  The administrators went on to ask for advice on how to respond to their legislators.

Clearly, the legislators were looking for simple one- or two-word responses that they could use with the media and with their colleagues.  My suggestion instead was to share with legislators what this budget means for the kids you serve – in other words, how this budget improves educational opportunities for your students.  But, more importantly, you also need to share the unmet needs from this budget and the ongoing challenges that remain.

I think this is a clear example of how our responsibility to advocate on behalf of necessary resources for our students and needed evidence-based policy does not stop with the signing of the state budget.  It is ongoing and continuous.

Therefore, my suggestion to all district administrators is this:  engage your administrative teams and develop your district’s analysis of 1) what this budget means for the students you serve, and 2) the unmet needs from this budget and the ongoing challenges that remain.  Then use this information to educate your legislators, your staff, your board and your community.

Wisconsin school children deserve that kind of continuous advocacy.  Thanks for listening, and thanks for everything you do for the kids you serve.

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DPI Releases Estimated Impact of Evers’ Partial Veto

By John Forester | July 3, 2019

From the Department of Public Instruction . . .

On July 3, 2019, Governor Evers signed AB 56, the 2019-21 state biennial budget, into law as 2019 Act 9, with partial vetoes. The PDF document below summarizes action on the state budget for K-12 school funding, public libraries and lifelong learning, and the Department’s operations, from the Department’s budget request, Governor Evers’ budget proposal, the final budget as adopted by the Joint Committee on Finance and Legislature, and the final budget as signed with partial vetoes by Governor Evers.

Full Summary of K-12 Education provisions included in the final 2019-21 Biennial Budget 

Partial Veto to the Per Pupil Aid Program: Governor Evers partially vetoed language in AB 56 pertaining to the Per Pupil Aid (PPA) program, under which school districts receive a flat dollar amount per revenue limit member (pupils), as specified in state law. The effect of the Governor’s partial veto is to increase the per member dollar amount that will go to all school districts, for both the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 school years. The estimated impact of Governor Evers’ veto, as compared to AB 56 as adopted by the Legislature, for each school district in the state, is shown in the PDF document directly below. This comparison does not reflect the impact of the partial veto to the Supplemental Per Pupil Aid program, a separate, new program created under the budget bill. 

Estimated Impact of Partial Veto to Per Pupil Aid Program

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Evers Signs Budget, Pumps More Money Into K-12 Through Partial Vetoes

By John Forester | July 3, 2019

From WisPolitics.com …

Gov. Tony Evers signed the two-year budget Wednesday, but only after using his partial veto authority to pump nearly $100 million more into K-12 education than what Republicans had proposed.

He also undercut former Gov. Scott Walker’s push to require able-bodied adults with school-age children to meet work requirements to receive food stamps and for adults without kids to go through drug screening to qualify.

While the requirements remain, Evers’ moves nixed the funding so they can’t be administered.

Evers also indicated in his veto message that he will sign a separate bill that would direct additional revenue from online sales to lower income taxes. The combined impact of the income tax reductions in the budget and AB 251 total $518 million over the two-year period. The reductions would reduce the lowest two income tax brackets.

Evers used his line-item veto authority 78 times. That figure matches the average number of partial vetoes Wisconsin governors have used on budget bills over the last decade. Over the past 30 years, governors have issued an average of 137 partial vetoes, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Evers wrote in his veto message the GOP version of the budget falls short, adding he seriously considered vetoing the full document.

“But when I ran for this office, I said it was time for a change, and I made promises to the people of Wisconsin,” Evers wrote. “I promised I would put politics aside to get things done.”

See more in the Budget Blog here.

See Evers veto message here.

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Strang, Patteson: Approval Requirements In School District Real Estate Transactions

By John Forester | July 2, 2019

From The Legal Side…

With the annual meeting of the electors approaching for common school districts and union high school districts, many are considering whether elector approval is required for certain real estate transactions.  This legal update from Strang, Patteson explores this issue.

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BoardmanClark: Metadata is a Public Record: What Does this Mean for School Districts?

By John Forester | July 2, 2019

From The Legal Side…

BoardmanClark recently published this School Law FYI regarding a recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision and the way that school districts must respond to records requests for electronic files.   The SAA regularly receives these updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of BoardmanClark.

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ETF Update – WRS Contribution Rates to Increase Slightly

By John Forester | July 2, 2019

The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) announced in a recent bulletin that required contribution rates for Wisconsin Retirement System employers and employees will increase slightly in 2020. The Employee Trust Funds Board approved the rate changes June 20, following an annual report by the retirement system’s consulting actuary. Read more here.

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DPI Releases General Aid Estimate

By John Forester | July 2, 2019

Following a timeline required by state law, the Department of Public Instruction released an estimate yesterday of the general school aids each public school district will receive for the 2019-20 school year.  For additional information, see the DPI news release and district aid estimates.

DPI News Release

District Aid Estimates

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Evers Calls for the Budget

By John Forester | June 28, 2019

From WisPolitics.com …

An hour after Tony Evers called for lawmakers to send him the budget, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the “worst thing, I think, in the world” would be if the guv vetoed the entire thing.

GOP lawmakers yesterday touted their version of the budget in a pair of news conferences, arguing it delivered on the guv’s priorities but in a more measured way.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he expected some partial vetoes. But he and fellow GOP lawmakers issued a warning to the guv if he vetoed the entire budget — something that hasn’t happened since the state went to its current appropriation process in 1931. Doing so, they argued, would threaten the additional funding they approved for K-12 education, higher wages for prison guards and more money for the justice system, among other things.

“My word to him is sign the bill, because your schools and especially our children in the state of Wisconsin are depending on it,” added Sen. Luther Olsen, a member of the Finance Committee and chair of the Education Committee.

Ahead of the GOP news conferences, Evers tweeted that he had called for the Assembly to send him the budget once it is enrolled. Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton, signed the budget today, while Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is expected to do so tomorrow. Both have to happen before the budget can be sent to Evers.

Once he receives it, Evers will have to act within six days, not including Sundays. Leg Council said that deadline isn’t impacted by the July 4 holiday, meaning Evers will have to act on the document by July 5 if he receives it today.

His office has said repeatedly in recent weeks he will wait to see the final language that emerges from the Legislature before making a decision.

Wednesday night, Evers vowed via Twitter “that the will of the people is the law of the land, and that’s what will be on my mind as I review the Legislature’s changes to our budget.”

Yesterday he followed, “I’m ready for the legislature to send me the budget. This morning I called for the Assembly to send me the biennial budget bill as soon as it is enrolled.”

Fitzgerald said he has pressed the guv in each of their meetings not to veto the entire document.

“At the end of the day it’s going to be very difficult to pull this back together and pull this process back together to kind of build something that he would find acceptable,” Fitzgerald said.

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Notes on Budget Process

By John Forester | June 27, 2019

From The Wheeler Report . . .

The budget has passed both houses of the legislature and is ready to be enrolled.  It is expected that enrollment will be done quickly with the possibility of the leadership of both houses signing the bill cover on Friday.  It is expected that Speaker Vos will direct the Assembly Chief Clerks office to deliver the budget to the Governor per Assembly Rule 23(4).  If the budget is delivered to the Governor and the Legislature does not wait for the bill to be called for by the Governor, it will be the first time that has occurred.  The Speaker’s office has directed the Chief Clerk to deliver bills to the Governor before, but never the budget. If delivered to the Governor on Friday, the 6 day clock will begin on Saturday, meaning the Governor would have until Friday, July 5 to act.

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Evers Still Silent on Budget Intentions

By John Forester | June 27, 2019

From WisPolitics.com … 

Gov. Tony Evers is still not saying how he intends to act on a two-year spending plan after the state Senate and Assembly voted to pass the GOP-backed budget in consecutive days.

In a series of tweets shortly after the Senate signed off on the Republican spending plan yesterday, the guv thanked “the thousands of Wisconsinites” who provided feedback to lawmakers throughout the budget process.

“I’ve said all along that the will of the people is the law of the land, and that’s what will be on my mind as I review the Legislature’s changes to our budget,” he tweeted.

Evers previously indicated he would not make a decision on how to use his partial or full veto authority on the state budget until lawmakers present him with a finalized version.

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