ICYMI: Gov. Walker Fights for Historic Funding for Wisconsin Classrooms
April 7, 2017

Gov. Walker continues to fight for more money in Wisconsin classrooms by making the case for historic investments in K-12 education directly to voters. In case you missed it, the governor traveled to Milton High School on Thursday – read the story below or here.

Walker says proposed budget will boost K-12 education during Milton visit
By Jim Dayton
Janesville Gazette
April 6, 2017

MILTON—Gov. Scott Walker said proposed spending increases for K-12 education would help buoy the state’s workforce during a Thursdayvisit with Milton High School students and staff.

Walker was in Milton to discuss public school funding in his proposed 2017-19 state budget. His proposal calls for an increase of $200 in per-pupil spending in 2018 and an additional $204 in 2019, according to a news release.

A series of budget listening sessions held last year throughout the state prompted Walker to make workforce improvements the top priority in this biennial budget, he said.

“What we found overwhelmingly is people telling us, ‘We have jobs, we just don’t have the people to fill those jobs,’” Walker said during his address. “We don’t have enough people with the skills needed, the education needed to fill those positions.”

The governor told students it was an exciting time to begin looking for jobs. The state’s 3.7 percent unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since November 2000, while the number of jobs continues to increase, he said.

Several years ago at the height of the recession, Walker feared his two sons would not be able to find jobs after high school.

Now, with the job market healthy and many baby boomers set to retire, students will have their pick of whatever careers they want, he said.

Before his talk, Walker toured the high school and stopped in the technical education lab, automotive shop and the FFA agriculture greenhouse to chat with students. He later touted opportunities in skilled labor, technology and other industries.

Walker said his proposed increase in per-pupil spending would further prepare students for their future careers or the next level of education.

Some have criticized the governor’s proposed K-12 budget because it requires school districts to be compliant with Act 10 to receive the boost in student aid. Not all districts have asked their teachers to pay for benefits under the terms of Act 10.

During a visit to Waukesha on Monday, Walker said that requirement might change, according to a media report. In Milton, he said tying the increased student aid to Act 10 would remain in some form to ensure that money stays inside the classroom.

Act 10 has caused a considerable rift since it became law in 2011. In an op-ed published Thursday in The Gazette, Milton Education Association President Michael Dorn wrote that the union supported per-pupil spending increases but bashed Act 10 for draining state funds and hurting Milton students.

Walker believes his proposal will garner bipartisan support in the state Legislature and said his spending increases paralleled what newly re-elected state Superintendent Tony Evers wanted. While officially nonpartisan, Evers has received strong support from Democrats.

As Milton pursues another facilities referendum after voters rejected a proposal in November, the governor said his budget could lead to fewer referendums in the future as districts receive additional funding.

It would ultimately be up to Milton taxpayers whether the district approves a referendum for a new high school, Walker said. He noted other schools in the state have adapted well to aging facilities.

“Facilities are important, but what’s more important than anything is what happens inside them,” Walker said. “Having quality staff and the money we put in will allow them to continue to have good staff and a lot of great education.”