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Evers calls special session to use surplus on education funding

Gov. Tony Evers last week signed Executive Order #69 calling the Legislature to meet in a special session on Feb. 11 to use $250 million in projected revenue surplus to recommit to two-thirds state funding for K-12 education including investments in school-based mental health services and special education aid, $10 million in sparsity aid, and $130 million in property tax relief through equalization aid.

“I’ve always said that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state, and every kid deserves access to high-quality, public education regardless of their age, identity, background, economic status, or zip code,” said Evers. “We don’t have to choose between investing in our kids and reducing property taxes—we can do both. My plan recommits to our promise of twothirds state funding for our schools and will provide $130 million in property tax relief through equalization aid. This is a no-brainer, folks. We know the bipartisan support is there, we just need elected offi cials to put people before politics.”

Since 2011, nearly one million Wisconsinites have voted to raise their own property taxes for local schools and in 2018 alone, voters approved more than $2 billion in debt and revenue increases for local schools. Additionally, the proposal to renew the state’s commitment to two-thirds funding was recommended by Republicans’ own Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding, and was supported by every Assembly Republican member in session priorities outlined last year.

Executive Order #69: -- Provides $79.1 million GPR in fiscal year 2021 to increase the estimated reimbursement rate for school district special

Please see Education, page 14 education costs from 30 percent to 34 percent; -- Increases the funding for high cost special education aid by an amount necessary to reimburse school districts for 100 percent of certain costs over $30,000 incurred to support a student with disabilities; -- Converts the relevant high cost special education aid appropriation from a sum certain to a sum sufficient appropriation; -- Increases funding for special education transition readiness grants by 100 percent, or $1.5 million GPR; -- Increases the allowable per pupil award from $1,000 to $1,500 for Special Education Transition Incentive grants; -- Provides $19 million GPR in additional school-based mental health services; -- Expands the types of costs that are eligible for aid under the program to include school counselors, psychologists, or nurses; -- Provides an additional $3.75 million for the School-Based Mental Health Collaborations grant program; -- Provides $10.1 million to invest more in sparsity aid payments, including establishing a second tier of sparsity aid for school districts that would otherwise be eligible but have an enrollment of more than 745 pupils; -- Modifies “stopgap” payments to include a district that no longer has fewer than 10 members per square mile to also receive a payment of 50 percent of its prior year sparsity aid payment for one year; -- Provides an additional $3.6 million for the expansion of summer school programming in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Racine as eligible districts; -- Permits school districts to hire newly retired employees within 30 days rather than the current 75 days; -- Creates a program for young tribal language learners by providing an additional $262,200 PR for the current tribal language revitalization grant program; -- Provides $100,000 PR for the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council to support the young learners portion of the program in partnership with the Department of Public Instruction; and -- Provides an additional $130 million in equalization aid.