Wisconsin’s brand-new budget, which Governor Scott Walker signed into law Thursday, will bring an additional $3.6 million increase to Chippewa County schools, Walker said in a Friday appearance at the Chippewa Falls Middle School.
Walker said the estimated increase will bring the district’s approximate budget up to $16.2 million.
At his Friday appearance, Walker spoke to a crowd of Chippewa Falls middle schoolers about two changes the 2017-2019 budget contains. “We were able to put more money into K-12 education than we ever done before…At the same time, we’re putting more money into lowering property taxes,” he said.
What will an extra $3.6 million do for Chippewa County schools? The Chippewa Falls School District’s official budget meeting is slated for Monday, Oct. 30, but Walker said the extra money could fund such items as mental health initiatives, internet-equipped buses, early college credit programs and internet access for rural communities.
The governor also extolled lower property taxes for the next two years, which he said will hopefully keep young people in Wisconsin to combat a potential employee shortage. “We’ve invested so much of your success individually, as a student here in the state, but also to build that workforce in the hopes you’ll stay here,” Walker said. “We’re really excited about what we’re able to do.”
The increase is in contrast with the 2015 budget, in which public education funding stayed flat and the UW system took $250 million in cuts.
Critics, including the Wisconsin division of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said the governor’s increase of public education funding is an attempt to drum up popular support before he presumably announces his run for Wisconsin governor in 2018.
Walker came close to confirming his re-election candidacy on Friday, saying he planned to announce his run in November and calling it “the worst-kept secret.” Walker was first elected in 2010, survived a recall attempt in 2012 and won re-election in 2014.
Another Wisconsin representative called the 2018 budget a clear-cut victory for state schools. “The schools are taken care of, the towns are in good shape…every school in my district is better off,” state Rep. James W. Edming said Friday. Edming represents the 87th Assembly District and lives in Glen Flora. Like Walker, Edming is a Republican.
Walker first proposed the $11.5 billion funding increase for public education in February of this year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The State legislature promised Walker it would send a budget to him this summer, Walker said Friday. “When they said that, I didn’t know they were going to get it to me on the last day of summer,” he joked.
Walker was also slated to visit schools in Mosinee and Sheboygan on Friday.