MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers and state Republicans have reached a tentative agreement about how much revenue the state returns to local communities. Included in the agreement are $1 billion for K-12 education and a 20% increase in direct payments to municipalities of every size.
According to a press release from Evers’ office, he and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) hammered out the agreement after a marathon negotiation Wednesday, June 7. The conversation was scheduled after Evers released a plan in April that closely mirrored that of the Republican plan announced last December.
Both proposals included taking 20% of the 5-cent sales tax collected by the state and returning it to Wisconsin villages and cities to fund public safety—police, fire, EMS—and to address infrastructure, like roads and bridges. Local governments would have seen a 10% increase under the original iterations of both plans.
At the time, Vos touted the increase in shared revenue as the “single largest investment in local government in the history of Wisconsin” as a result of a bi-partisan effort between state and local lawmakers that began last summer.
Breakdown of shared revenue for education
In Evers’ press release Thursday, he stressed the increase in education funding, outlining the following points:
- More than $1 billion in spendable revenue for K-12 education to maintain two-thirds funding, including a $325 per pupil increase in each fiscal year on revenue limits;
- $50 million to improve reading and literacy outcomes for K-12 students, though the details for how the money will be distributed are still being worked out;
- Increasing per-pupil aid for choice and independent charter schools;
- A $30 million investment over the biennium to continue the governor’s initiative to support school-based mental health services statewide;
- Reimbursing special education at 33.3%;
- Raising the low revenue ceiling from $10,000 to $11,000 per student.
“What’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state, and I will never stop trying to do the right thing for our kids,” Evers said in his press release. “This compromise ensures we make a historic investment in this budget for K-12 schools and education, providing more than $1 billion that can be used for our kids in the classroom, while also working to improve literacy and reading outcomes and support school-based mental health services statewide.”
Under the original iteration of both Evers’ and Republican’s proposals, Racine County would have seen an additional $30 to $35 million on top of the $150 to $175 million the county normally receives. Now, though, with Evers’ announcement about the increase doubling, the county could see $60 to $65 million in additional dollars.
Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave said in April the money would fund child protective services, mental health, drug and alcohol treatment, and safety equipment for Racine County Sheriff’s deputies. In a statement sent to Racine County Eye, Delagrave said he appreciates the thoughtful manner in which the agreement was reached as well as the increased revenue.
“I welcome the news regarding shared revenue legislation and thank our leaders in Madison for reaching a logical decision on this much-needed reform,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to be a conservative steward of the funds granted us by the taxpayers and using additional funding to support essential services for our Racine County residents.”
Racine County Eye has calls into Vos’s office for comment. We will update this story when we hear from them.