Janesville78.5°

Dems’ ‘Save Our Schools’ proposal dips into projected state revenue increase

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 27, 2011
— The Janesville School District would get $6.7 million more state aid in a proposal Assembly Democrats plan to introduce to the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee.

Funding to the Delavan-Darien School District would increase 14 percent compared to the amount proposed in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget, according to Legislative Fiscal Bureau data.


The “Save Our Schools” proposal would provide an additional $376 million for public schools and technical colleges, according to a Thursday news release from the office of Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.


The money would come from a projected increase in state revenues, said Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton.


According to a May 11 Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo, general fund revenues could be $636 million higher over the next three fiscal years than previously anticipated. That is a 1.6 percent increase that would come mostly from income taxes, the memo states.


Among other things, Democrats in a Thursday press conference at Blackhawk Technical College proposed using some of that money to increase state aid to public schools.


Janesville School Board member Kevin Murray attended the conference to learn about the proposal. He was encouraged by the fact that a legislator from Oshkosh came to Rock County to talk about school funding.


“Any proposal that would help us restore programs and positions in the Janesville School District, I’m all for it,” Murray said.


Janesville School Board member Karl Dommershausen said the proposal would affect the next budget cycle and could help the district plan for the future, when he thinks the money will be most needed.


“Six point seven million would be a good solution,” Dommershausen said.


Starting in the 2012-13 fiscal year, the proposal would eliminate the school levy tax credit, the first dollar tax credit and high-poverty aid and distribute that money—more than $900 million—through general aid, according to a May 16 memo to Pope-Roberts from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.


The amount of levy paid by property tax payers would not change, the memo states.


Every school district would get at least $3,000 per


pupil, and each student qualified for federal free- and reduced-price lunch programs would be counted as 1.2 students for the purpose of calculating general aid, the memo states.


No district would lose aid, and 86 percent of districts would get more aid than under the governor’s proposal, Hintz said.


According to documents released as part of the news conference, the proposal:


-- Eliminates the voucher and independent charter school expansions proposed in the Walker budget.


-- Returns $40 million to public schools from private schools.


-- Removes provisions in Walker’s budget to expand the Milwaukee schools voucher program to students whose families are at any income levels.


-- Allocates $200 million for the repayment of the Injured Patients Compensation Fund.


-- Reduces the debt restructuring of borrowing by $100 million.


The proposal would be more in line with Wisconsin values than the budget proposed by Walker, Pope-Roberts said.


“Given different priorities, Wisconsin can do a better job than Walker’s budget will allow,” she said.


Hintz said the proposal is introduced now so legislators can consider all options as the budget process comes to an end.


“It’s important all members of the Legislature consider all options,” Hintz said. “We’re at a time when we think we can significantly improve this plan.”


PROPOSED SCHOOL AID

A proposal released Thursday by Assembly Democrats would hold steady or increase the amount of state aid for school districts. The proposal would increase state aid to all school districts in Rock and Walworth counties except Big Foot and Lake Geneva, which would see no change.


Beloit— $1.589 million, which would be 2.8 percent.


Beloit Turner—$605,139, which would be 6.6 percent.


Big Foot—No change


Clinton—$474,695, which would be 5.5 percent.


Delavan-Darien—$1.652 million, which would be 14 percent.


Edgerton—$830,799, which would be 8 percent.


Elkhorn—$1.197 million, which would be 7.6 percent.


Evansville—$879,964, which would be 6.7 percent.


Janesville—$6.704 million, which would be 9.8 percent.


Juda—$138,552, which would be 6.4 percent.


Lake Geneva—No change


Milton—$780,215, which would be 3.9 percent.


Parkview—$550,488, which would be 7.6 percent.


Sharon—$88,196, which would be 3.6 percent.


Walworth—$249,906, which would be 7.7 percent.


Whitewater—$446,499, which would be 4.5 percent.


Williams Bay—$168,719, which would be 11.3 percent.



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