increase funding for special education // WJFW Newswatch 12
Photo by WJFW Newswatch 12
Dan Hagen story
Local sports Posted 06/11/2021 17:18, Last update 06/11/2021 18:24
Wisconsin – Governor Tony Evers (D-Wisconsin) has proposed $ 1.4 billion for education funding in the state budget. Republicans on the state budget drafting committee responded by committing about $ 128 million and setting aside $ 350 million without a commitment.
“This idea that we’re going to withhold $ 350 million – that was a bad idea,” said Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee). “Whoever found this, he’s just going to have to admit it was a mistake.”
Representative Goyke is one of four Democrats on the state budget drafting committee, known as the Joint Finance Committee. He wants Republicans to commit the money withheld to pay for special education.
“The best value is to put that $ 350 million on special education and send it to school districts all over the state,” said Representative Goyke.
This is an opinion Goyke shares with Florence County School District Superintendent Ben Niehaus.
“If you took every penny and put it in special education,” Niehaus said. “Every child, every taxpayer, every school district is going to win.”
Funding for special education affects more than special education. Let’s take a look at the Niehaus district in the county of Florence. He spent about $ 900,000 on special education. to the 2019-2020 school year. The state reimbursed the district for 27 percent of this. This leaves $ 657,000 for the district to pay. It takes money away from the rest of the district.
If the state reimbursed more for special education, districts could spend more on other things. Niehaus said he devoted it to mental health and trades education.
“Put everything in funding for special education and everyone will benefit,” Niehaus said. “Every school district in the state of Wisconsin will benefit.”
The governor has proposed to allocate an additional $ 700 million to fund special education. This provides for reimbursement rates of 45 and 50 percent for the next two years.
Niehaus says there is money available to increase funding for special education. On June 8, the legislative tax office announced that the state’s tax revenue over the next three years will be $ 4.4 billion more than previously forecast.
“It’s safe and doable if they put the politics aside and look at the numbers they get from the legislative tax office and what they know they have,” Niehaus said. “They can make that happen.”
Senator Mary Felzkowski (R-Tomahawk) is Northwoods’ only lawmaker on the joint finance committee. WJFW has requested interviews several times since last week. Senator Felzkowski’s staff said via email that she was too busy.