When is the crucial budget deadline for public schools in Wisconsin? Even agreeing on that was proving a point of contention in budget negotiations at the Capitol this week. With the state Assembly poised to vote on K-through-12 funding next week, Minority Leader Jim Kreuser questioned the validity of a deadline near the end of September. Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster "may have to work past 5:00, may have to work on the weekend" to get budget numbers to the districts, said Kreuser. "I don't think that artificial time frame is really there." But Assembly Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald says Burmaster was specific about a deadline. "If she puts out a statement that there's a drop-dead date that is 14 days away from us now, I take Libby at her word," said Fitzgerald. "It is our duty to protect the taxpayers."
Although there was still no agreement on a state budget Friday, Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson painted an optimistic picture. In a press release, Robson stated that conferees had "worked in a bipartisan fashion to resolve 99.5% of the public education budget." But Fitzgerald said the budget negotiators are "no further along" in efforts to reach a compromise.