Governor Scott Walker has announced his budget proposal for the next two years. “This budget moves Wisconsin forward,” the Republican governor told a joint session of the legislature on Wednesday. “Our priorities fall into three categories: student success, accountable government, and rewarding work. Our budget makes major new investments in each of these areas.”
The governor’s 2017-2019 spending plan includes increased K-12 funding and a 5 percent tuition cut for students at UW System campuses. That tuition cut is included in $592 million in tax and fee cuts. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is already indicating that the tuition cut is a non-starter in the Republican-controlled chamber.
Walker is proposing $648.9 million in per-pupil aid for K-12 schools. Part of that would be paid for by projected savings from moving to a self-insurance model for state employees, which was approved by a state board shortly before the governor delivered his remarks. The governor said that includes a request by the state Department of Public Instruction for a $200 per pupil increase in the first year, and $204 in the second
In order to get the aid, Wisconsin school districts would need to show that they are compliant with Act 10. Under the terms of the 2011 law which effectively eliminated collective bargaining for public employees, district employees are required to contribute a portion of their compensation to cover pension costs.
Walker said his budget includes overall tax relief of $592.7 million, and will eliminate state property tax levy for the first time since 1931. The budget includes some $6.1 billion for transportation funding, including a $40 million increase in general transportation aids to Wisconsin counties and municipalities. There’s also $669.8 million to allow several ongoing major highway projects to remain on schedule.
Walker said his budget plan is based on what he calls “the reform dividend” from Act 10. “This is a solid budget built on a strong foundation,” he said. The budget proposal now goes to the legislature’s joint finance committee.