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Highlights of Governor Doyle's 2005-07 Budget Proposal

The budget unveiled by Gov. Jim Doyle is in step with the values of Wisconsin residents, who know the value of our investment in great schools. It offers a solid, balanced plan to use taxpayer resources wisely, and offers realistic solutions, not gimmicks.

The governor's plan will create classrooms that work for children, help to maintain quality staff in schools and benefit everyone throughout Wisconsin by providing real property tax relief for residents.

Highlights of Governor Doyle's budget proposal include:

Placing kids in classrooms that work

  • Encourage more school districts to implement school breakfast programs by providing a $.50 increase in the state's reimbursement rate for school breakfasts.

  • Provide $3 million in fiscal year 2006-07 to assist school districts with the initial costs of starting up 4-year-old kindergarten programs.

  • Increase the per pupil reimbursement level for the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program, which lowers class size in kindergarten-3rd grade, to $2,250 in the 2005-06 school year and $2,500 in 2006-07 and provide additional funding for ten new schools to participate in SAGE.

  • Increase funding for special education aid and create a new program to provide higher levels of aid to school districts with high-cost, low-incidence special education students.

  • Provide $16 million increase in pupil transportation aid over the biennium, directing greater increases to school districts with larger geographic service areas and longer travel distances.

  • To improve equity in school spending, increase the per student low revenue ceiling, below which school districts are exempt from revenue limits, from $7,800 per student to $8,100 in fiscal year 2005-06 and to $8,400 in fiscal year 2006-07.

  • To address the concerns of declining enrollment districts, modify the revenue limit calculation to provide these districts greater revenue limit authority by using either a three- or five-year rolling enrollment average.

  • Provide additional funding for the state to maintain its current share of funding for bilingual-bicultural education aid.

  • Provide funding to expand the number of advanced placement courses offered in the state and to enhance gifted and talented student programs in middle schools.

Maintaining quality staff in schools

  • Provide funding for competitive grants to school districts where school boards and educators are interested in designing compensation systems that reward teachers for acquiring skills and knowledge that have been demonstrated to improve student learning or for accepting hard-to-staff or challenging teaching assignments.

  • Provide $2.6 million to help experienced teacher mentors for beginning educators.

  • Expand the grant program for teachers who receive certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to include teachers who receive master teacher licenses under the state's new licensure rules.

  • Repeal the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) to provide more flexibility for teachers and school boards to work together to find better ways to link teacher compensation with implementing effective instructional strategies, to address escalating health insurance costs and to create equity between teachers and other public employees in bargaining.

Benefiting all Wisconsin citizens

  • Provide $700 million in increased school equalization aid and $150 million in levy credits to freeze property taxes.

  • Combine state aid, tax credit, levy limit, levy restraint incentives and new cooperation authority into an overall property tax relief package that:
    • Saves the typical homeowner $366 over the biennium compared to property taxes in the absence of the governor's initiatives.
    • Limits growth in statewide property taxes to the rate of new construction.
    • Holds the overall statewide total property tax increase lower than in any of the last eight years (excluding lottery credits).

  • Increase property tax relief in areas of the state with lower relative property values by distributing the $150 million increase in the school levy credit on an equalized basis.

  • Include a provision to "buy back" the additional school levy credit if 2005-07 state general fund revenues exceed budget projections.

  • Require school districts to provide greater public accountability for the fund balances they maintain and require school boards to vote on maintaining fund balances in excess of 90% of the state average.

  • Allow school districts to carry over 100% of their unused revenue limit authority to eliminate the current incentive to increase school taxes to the maximum allowable.

Promoting economic development and worker training

  • Provide an additional $23 million in funding over the biennium for higher education financial aid programs for University of Wisconsin System, technical and private college students, including a 34% increase in aid to University of Wisconsin System students. With this increase, financial aid for University of Wisconsin students will have doubled between 2003 and 2007.

  • Retain and create jobs in the state through a new Training Assistance Grant program, funded at $2.5 million in each year, to train and upgrade the skills of our workers.

  • Provide $5 million in grants in 2006-07 for the Economic Development Initiative to attract businesses to communities that have had unemployment of 7.5% or more for a period of time.

  • Increase Manufacturing Extension Center Grants and move entire appropriation and administrative responsibility for the grants from the Department of Commerce to the WTCS Board.

Summary bullets taken from the state Department of Administration Budget In Brief document. For the full document, visit http://www.doa.state.wi.us/debf/pdf_files/200507bib.pdf.

Administering government operations and essential services

  • WEAC will work to address the impact of the budget on state employees represented by WEAC Council 1. WEAC will analyze the impact of the proposed state employee reductions with regard to its members at the Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Technical College System, State Historical Society, state prisons and other institutions. WEAC strongly believes that Council 1 members are doing work that greatly benefits the state and provides an enormous return on the state's investment. WEAC will work to ensure that they are treated fairly as the budget process proceeds and contract negotiations continue.

Posted February 9, 2005

At the Capitol News Archives