A new report from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows funding to more than three-quarters of Wisconsin school districts is lower than what it was six years ago.
The LFB report shows general aid payments to about 75 percent of the state’s 424 school districts during the 2015-16 school year were lower than they were during the 2010-11 school year, before Governor Scott Walker’s first budget. The report shows 49 schools districts also lost more than half of their general aid support during that time period.
Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said the figures highlight the challenges facing schools, which have had to cut teachers, increase class sizes, and use referendums to maintain facilities. She notes that the cuts have come as Republicans shifted more state dollars to help wealthy special interests, in the form of tax breaks to companies that have outsourced jobs.
“Millions of taxpayer dollars have gone to subsidize companies that have outsourced Wisconsin jobs while school districts are forced to cut teachers, increase class sizes and rely on referendums to maintain outdated buildings. These latest numbers show just how devastating an impact Republican cuts have had on our local communities,” Shilling said in a statement.
In a statement, an aide to Walker defended education efforts under the governor’s administration. “Governor Walker increased the state’s commitment for K-12 public schools in the last budget and his goal is to do so again in this budget. Governor Walker provided additional state support for rural schools in the last budget as well through the sparsity aid and the high-cost transportation programs,” said Walker spokesman Tom Evenson.