“Doing what’s best for our kids;” Evers proposes historic funding to public schools, special ed

The governor said the $7.1 billion state surplus needs to be responsibly funneled back in to Wisconsinites.
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 9:20 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin’s two-term Governor Tony Evers started his biennial budget proposal with a sense of positivity for possibility, a budget proposal that includes a more than 20-percent spending increase.

“Wisconsin, as I share our agenda for our next two years together, we begin this biennium in the best fiscal position we’ve ever been in our 175-year statehood,” asserted Evers.

The governor said the $7.1 billion state surplus needs to be responsibly funneled back in to Wisconsinites. Up first on the governor’s wish list, funding for public education and special education.

“Budgets reflect our priorities, which is why every budget I’ve ever built began with doing what’s best for our kids. This one is no different,” said Evers.

The governor laid out his plan to earmark $2.6 billion for things like keeping class sizes small, improving reading and literacy, making breakfast free for kids in school, special education and mental health services.

“Let’s make sure every kid in Wisconsin has access to school-based mental health services through our ‘Get Kids Ahead’ initiative. It’s the Year of Mental Health, folks. I know we can get this done,” said Evers.

Evers also pledged $10 million to bolster computer science studies for k-12, requiring every school district to offer at least one computer science class.

“The good news, I think what the governor is putting forward is strongly supported by the people of Wisconsin,” says Democratic State Senator Kelda Roys.

Senator Roys is on the finance committee that will revise the governor’s budget next. After that, the budget is sent to the senate and assembly for approval.

In addition to education funding, Roys, a mother of five, says care for kids needs to start sooner and be funded more fully.

“For me it would be childcare. This is something that effects every community in the state, every employer. People need high quality childcare so they can be part of the workforce,” asserts Roys.

The governor says he has a plan for that.

“We’re going to invest more than $22 million to keep working to support partnerships between businesses and child care providers who want to do their part to help make sure child care is more affordable and accessible for their workers,” said Evers.

The proposal positively portrayed by Democrats still needs Republicans’ approval, which is something Democratic State Senator Dianne Hesselbein says is doable.

“I’m an optimistic person. I don’t think you can work in this building and not be,” Hesselbein said. “So I’m really hopeful with the conversations I’ve had with my republican colleagues that we will put some historic money in K12 funding and higher education as well. And I don’t know if there’s movement on Medicaid expansion right now, but I’m going to continue pushing.”

Speaker Robin Vos said after the address that he believes they can potentially find common ground on issues to address, but that the solutions they are looking for are very different from the governor’s. Republican State Sen. Devin LeMahieu said that from hearing from Wisconsinites while on the campaign trail, they know what Wisconsinites want.

“We’re going to be responsible, we’re going to make sure that we invest in core prioritizes reasonably, but also make sure we’re returning the surplus and providing real tax relief to the taxpayers of Wisconsin,” LeMahieu said.

More Democratic lawmakers are sharing that sense of positivity, hoping the dollars and cents of the surplus will be well spent.

The governor also promised to cut taxes by 10-percent for the middle class plus a $1.2 billion in tax relief for working families.

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