Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has signed an historic shared revenue deal. At a Wausau fire station Tuesday, the governor explained stagnant state funding has put local governments in a bind.
“So with shared revenue being held stagnant for the last decade local partners in every corner of the state have been forced to make impossible decisions about what essential services to fund.”
The law provides an additional $247.9 million in state aid to counties and municipalities. “Today means our local partners might finally be able to make ends meet.”
The Democratic governor acknowledged the bipartisan nature of the bill and acknowledged the work of its Republican co-authors. State Senate Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Representative Tony Kurz (R-Wonewoc) were present for the signing but were not among the speakers.
The deal also prevents a financial crisis by allowing elected leaders to vote on local sales taxes in Milwaukee, but also places restrictions and requirements on what the city and county may do with new sales tax revenues. “Obviously the folks from the city of Milwaukee had some really difficult things to answer to regarding . . . requirements that they have to do,” Evers said. Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and County Executive David Crowley attended the bill signing.
Evers defended provisions of the shared revenue deal which provide additional state funding for private “choice” schools in Wisconsin. “We added a little bit more money in order to get this deal across the finish line,” the governor said. “But the idea that somehow voucher schools and independent charters haven’t been receiving money and all of a sudden they are this time, that’s just not true.”OR
The governor has been sharply criticized by the state’s largest teachers union, public education advocates and some Democrats in the legislature who believe he caved in. Republicans are calling it the largest expansion of choice schools in state history. Vouchers will now total $9,499 per student for K-8 and $11,993 per student for high school. The deal also adds $1 billion to the budget for public K-12 schools.