What’s In The Wisconsin Governor’s $2 Billion Budget Increase Proposal

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers released a proposal to increase spending on Wisconsin education by $2 billion, here's what it covers.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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Wisconsin education

While public school enrollment continues to fall below pre-pandemic levels, and student performance rates are lagging, some states continue increasing education budgets. The Wisconsin education system has suffered from a .5% decrease in students throughout 2021 after losing 3% in 2020, and falling proficiency rates. Despite this, the state’s governor wants to increase the area’s school budget plan to $2 billion

The proposed budget increase draws from the state surplus with claims that property taxes will not be raised. Evers’ plan increased the individual student budget by $350 next year and $650 the following year. This would increase for two more years totaling a cost of about $60 million. This Wisconsin education plan would also increase student mental health services by $240 million, and direct just $10 million of this massive $2 billion budget toward literacy programs. 

The rest of the Wisconsin education money in this budget would be directed to expanding free student meal programs and the reduced-lunch program, financial literacy classes, as well as changing laws regarding the rehiring of teachers and increasing afterschool/out-of-school programs. The specific amounts to be spent on these endeavors have yet to be fully disclosed, but this excessive education budget is being criticized as a tactic to buy votes. Ever’s gubernatorial opponent running in the upcoming November election pointed out that the Wisconsin governor has continued to excessively spend and expand bureaucratic overreach and it has yet to improve schools, or even maintain them up to state standards. 

Instead of backing school choice — a widely popular education stance across party lines — Evers is dedicated to pumping more money into the public education system, despite the fact that billions of relief funds have yet to aid students. While claims that schools are underfunded continue to circulate, the fact of the matter is that the Wisconsin education system is serving less students, producing lower proficiency scores, and proposing to spend more than ever. What’s more, students scored lower on math, English, and ACT exams in 2019, proving that these failures are not merely side effects of the pandemic. 

This is a national trend. While Wisconsin education spending has stagnated and slightly decreased when compared to most other states, national revenue for K-12 education increased by over 23% between 2002 and 2019. Despite this student enrollment, attendance, and even success rates were slipping well before the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Schools received record amounts of funding throughout the pandemic. These relief funds pumped $1.5 billion into the Wisconsin education system, but still, students are suffering from learning loss. It seems as if throwing money at the situation hasn’t helped students to improve their academic success rates. This may be due to the fact that many states directed pandemic relief funds away from classroom health concerns and academic achievement in favor of implementing identity politics into lessons. 

Wisconsin education

Wisconsin area schools are guilty of this form of spending. In Milwaukee, $24 million was utilized to institute “Anti-Racism and Bias Professional Development,” as well as programs to institute social and emotional learning in core subjects. This did nothing to improve student success rates and so now Governor Tony Evers wishes to improve the broken Wisconsin education system by increasing funding once again. 

Evers’ Wisconsin education budget seeks to spend more on various educational endeavors but has few details to improve core class achievement rates. It has received much pushback from conservatives and parents who are wary of massive spending plans. Whether it passes and leads students toward academic excellence remains to be seen, but based on the Governor’s record it will continue to be an uphill battle.