What cuts to Education? (blog)
Monday, October 31, 2011 8:36 AM
Governor Scott Walker's reforms are working! Governor Scott Walker and state lawmakers faced a $3.6 billion deficit when they were sworn into office January 3, 2011. The good news is the Wisconsin state budget is now balanced without raising taxes and without layoffs of teachers. In the Ripon Area School District taxpayers will save $600,000 due to Act 10 reforms, according to media reports. This figure is derived from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The Walker Budget Repair Bill - which required teachers pay 5.8% towards their own pensions and at least 12.6% for their own health care premiums - has saved districts so much money that nothing needs to be cut.
According to 2011 head counts from the Department of Public Instruction, these changes will affect 298,711 students in Wisconsin - saving districts an average of $517.12per student.
# of Reported Districts # of Students Affected Projected Savings So Far Savings per Student
74 298,711 $154,500,179 $517.12
A preliminary estimate based on an analysis of local reports conducted by the MacIver Institute suggests that, if adopted uniformly by every district in Wisconsin, local schools would stand to save $451,076,536.32 through new staff contracts that required the additional contributions to health and retirement benefits.
Even those school districts that rushed to sign contracts before the budget repair bill became law are seeing positive results from the Walker bill.
Some teachers are saying that Governor Scott Walker made $900 million in 'cuts to education.' The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Politifact explains the cuts; those opposing Walker's budget plan espouse. In an article dated July 25, 2011, entitled The Truth-O-Meter in 2009, then Governor Jim Doyle and Democrats who controlled the Capitol enacted an aid trim in the 2009-'11 budget. They also slowed the growth in how much schools could raise in property taxes. They then provided a provision directed at the next Legislature to re-set the tax limits in the 2011-'13 budget to what they were before they tightened them. After November 2010, Doyle is gone and Democrats lost both chambers of the legislature. Walker and legislative Republicans needed to balance the budget. They also agreed that they couldn't accept the Democrat-set limits, and they put in place a real cut in both state school aid and allowable property tax growth. The $900 million in cuts are explained by comparing the stricter limits enacted by the GOP to the increase Doyle and the Democrats had built into the budget for 2011-'13.
That is a skewed way to measure a cut.
The $900 million is only an estimate, and one that assumes that school districts would have "taxed to the max". Walker and the GOP provided local school districts with a savings opportunity. Setting limits on collective bargaining by public employees to allow the school districts to require employees to pay more for health insurance and pensions. The "tools," as Walker calls them, have allowed some -- but not all -- districts to offset the reduction in spending on education. Our entire state does owe Governor Walker and the Republicans in Madison a big thank-you and round of applause for doing the right thing!
Governor Walker's plan for school vouchers to the poorest students to give them equal access to schools of their choice does not dismantle public schools. It creates competition which improves standards and quality. Problems in American's schools are often attributed to lack of funding. Per-pupil education spending has tripled since the 1960s, while student performance has flat lined. Taxpayers and parents are investing more and more into a system that is failing to prepare children for college and the workplace.
The Democrats know that education is a huge campaign issue. The education of our children matters to people like nothing else does. We are concerned about it. Governor Scott Walker does not buy votes unlike President Barack Hussein Obama. President Obama knows education is important and uses his 'Student Loan Bailout' in his latest attempt to buy votes.