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Budget Brief: Final Summary of Budget, Veto Announcements Governor's Veto Action Results in "Status Quo" Budget for Educatio

Governor's veto action results in "status quo" budget for education.

Governor McCallum announced his 2001-2003 state budget veto decisions Thursday, August 30, 2001. The governor signed two very important education initiatives that place students in classrooms that work, but he did not sign other items that are just as important to great schools. The budget will help place kids in classrooms that work by fully funding the SAGE class size reduction program, maintaining the state's commitment to fund two-thirds of school operation costs and restoring funding to 4-year-old kindergarten programs.

These items, however, represent a continuation of the status quo for school funding. Fully funding the SAGE program was promised by the Legislature during the last budget; two-thirds funding of school operation costs is part of a continuing property tax relief effort and 4-year-old kindergarten will simply be restored to current funding levels.

In a surprise move, the governor vetoed the $115 million aid payment delay to schools. His "buying back" of the aid delay will require the Joint Finance Committee to ensure that schools will receive their total aid payments from the state during this budget cycle. It does not, however, increase state aid payments to schools.

Governor vetoes revenue cap flexibility and QEO changes, missing an opportunity to truly support great schools:

Other veto actions, however, do not promote quality staff in schools, nor will they benefit everyone in the community. The governor vetoed the entire 0.78% revenue cap flexibility provision, thereby denying schools $45 million in relief from the caps. He also vetoed all of the modifications to the QEO law, rejecting the opportunity to restore fairness to the bargaining table.

The governor's veto actions on revenue caps and the QEO will make it increasingly difficult to recruit and maintain quality staff and will continue to bind the hands of local school officials who are trying to provide every kid with a great school. The fact that the budget contains no extra funding for special education costs means school districts will be forced to pit special education against other programs, resulting in decisions that hurt all students.

Final budget highlights:

Veto Revenue Cap Flexibility:

  • VETOED: $45M -- Allow districts to raise their limit by 0.78% annually. This effort would have been aided as part of the school funding formula.
  • NOT VETOED: $14.1M -- Restore the current law annual inflationary adjustment under revenue caps.
    • $8.4M -- Restore the current law 40% funding of summer school programs under revenue caps.
    • $22M -- Provide a revenue cap exemption to school district expenditures related to "community service" programs.
    • $60M -- Maintain the state's commitment to fund 2/3 of referenda-approved school district construction costs as well as maintain current law on scheduling of local government referenda
    • $700,000 -- Provide a revenue limit adjustment for large area, low enrollment districts
    • $193,300 -- Provide a revenue limit adjustment for the Wausau School District Integration Transfer Program.

The state-imposed revenue caps, which limit the amount of money school districts are entitled to receive in state aids and property taxes, are keeping many school districts from providing classrooms that work. Districts are being forced to delay spending on necessities such as building maintenance and the purchase of computers and other technology. Revenue caps are devastating many school districts throughout Wisconsin. The vetoed item would have given districts minimal relief from this onerous law, which is preventing districts from placing children in classrooms that work by cutting vital programs and services.

Fully Fund SAGE:

  • $171M -- Fully funds the SAGE program through 3rd grade in all eligible schools. The governor's original budget cut SAGE funding by approximately $37 million by only allowing schools with a poverty rate above 50% to continue SAGE through the 3rd grade.

There is no better example of a program that makes classrooms work than the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program, which reduces class sizes in early grades in low-income schools and requires districts to create and implement plans for improving student performance. The SAGE appropriation, however, was promised to schools as part of the last state budget. The Legislature and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction also deserve credit for this item. This full funding decision occurred during Joint Finance Committee action on the budget.

Deny Any Special Education Aid Increase:

  • Provide no general aid increase for reimbursement to school districts for special education costs.

The ability of Wisconsin schools to provide classrooms that work is being seriously challenged because of the state's failure to keep its commitment to fund special education. Schools are being forced to choose between special education and regular education.

When the governor vetoed the revenue cap flexibility provision in the budget he denied the only source of funding that school districts had to offset the lack of special education funding. This action will continue the situation of pitting regular education programs against state and federally mandated special education programs resulting in decisions that hurt all students.

Restore Funding for 4-Year-Old Kindergarten (4K):

  • VETOED: Restore $14 million - The governor's veto will restore current law funding for 4K. Pupils enrolled in a 4K program will count as 0.5 as under current law. Also, all children in a 4K program that provides 87.5 additional hours of outreach activities will be counted as 0.6 pupil as under current law.

The success of Wisconsin's public schools is inextricably linked to the general readiness of students to learn. Appropriate funding for 4K programs will provide the youngest learners with every opportunity to reach their full potential. WEAC supports the governor's veto decision on 4K, although WEAC and other public school advocates sought to increase funding for 4K programs in the budget. This is a status quo result for 4K. The budget stops short of increasing funding for 4K programs so that they are treated the same as five-year-old programs.

Bargaining the selection of group health insurers and bargaining the school calendar:

(NOTE: The following items were removed from the budget by the Conference Committee and therefore were not part of the governor's veto considerations. They remain in this analysis as a review of items that WEAC successfully lobbied to remove from the budget).

  • Assembly proposal to make bargaining the selection of group health insurers a permissive subject of bargaining.
  • Assembly proposal to revise the QEO law so that a school district would only have to provide "substantially similar" benefits to teachers from one contract to the next.
  • Assembly proposal leaving it up to the State Commissioner of Insurance, a Republican appointee, to determine what constitutes "substantially similar" benefits. Under current QEO law, an employer must maintain both the existing fringe benefits package and the district's percentage contribution effort in that package.
  • Assembly proposal to require school districts to not only solicit sealed bids for provision of group health insurance but also encourage them to put their employees in the state insurance pool rather than continuing coverage under one of the WEA Insurance Trust group health plans.
  • Assembly proposal to make establishment of the school calendar a permissive subject of bargaining.

The quality of a school staff is enhanced when the staff is part of decision-making over issues such as fringe benefit options and salary structure. The Assembly Republicans wanted to roll back health insurance benefits by making health insurance a permissive subject of bargaining and by changing the QEO law. Another Republican provision would have made the establishment of the school calendar a permissive subject of bargaining. Literally hundreds of WEAC members contacted Assembly Republican leaders demanding that this assault on Wisconsin public school employees stop. In the end, the Assembly retreated on every point.


Changes in QEO law to protect permissive subjects of bargaining:

  • VETOED: New QEO Component: Maintenance of All Conditions of Employment. In order for a school district employer's offer to be deemed "qualified," newly require the employer to maintain all conditions of employment as those conditions existed 90 days prior to the expiration of any previous collective bargaining agreement between the employer and its represented teaching employees or 90 days prior to the commencement of negotiations, if there was no previous collective bargaining agreement.
  • VETOED: New QEO Component: Maintenance of Any Provisions Relating to Permissive Subjects of Bargaining. In order for a school district employer's offer to be deemed "qualified," newly require the employer to maintain any provisions relating to permissive subjects of bargaining that existed in the previous collective bargaining agreement between the employer and its represented teaching employees or that existed 90 days prior to the expiration of any previous collective bargaining agreement between the parties in any written agreement by the parties.
  • VETOED: Binding Arbitration Authorized if Employer's Offer is not "Qualified." Specify that if an investigator from the Employment Relations Commission determines, as part of an investigation whether a bargaining impasse exists between the parties, that the employer has not submitted a timely QEO, either the labor organization representing the school district professional employees or the school district employer would be authorized to petition for compulsory, final and binding arbitration, and the current law QEO provisions whereby an employer could avoid such arbitration procedures would not apply. Require the Commission to prescribe by rule the methodology to be used to determine whether or not a proposal submitted by a school district employer constitutes a timely QEO.
  • VETOED: QEO Initial Applicability. Provide that these provisions would first apply to petitions for arbitration filed by school district employers or their represented teaching employees after the general effective date of the biennial budget act.

WEAC supports the eventual full repeal of the QEO law. The law unfairly singles out educators to cap salary increases, destroys local collective bargaining and is harmful to employee morale impacting the overall quality of instruction in schools. These proposed changes to the QEO law sought to restore fairness to the local bargaining relationship by maintaining conditions of employment, protecting permissive subjects of bargaining and requiring the WERC to define a timely QEO. The governor's veto actions will continue the QEO restrictions on genuine collective bargaining and will intensify the existing teacher shortage by making it difficult to recruit and maintain great staff in our schools.

Rejection of "paycheck protection" language in budget:

(NOTE: The following item was removed from the budget by the Conference Committee and therefore was not part of the governor's veto considerations. It remains in this analysis as a review of an item that WEAC successfully lobbied to remove from the budget.)

  • Assembly provision to establish a "paycheck protection" law making it illegal for all employers and unions to collect member dues for use in political action.

The "paycheck protection" law would undermine the First Amendment rights of teachers and other education employees to form voluntary associations to advance their interests through the exercise of other First Amendment rights -- free speech and petitioning the government for redress of grievances. No other types of voluntary membership associations are subject to such restrictions on constitutionally protected activities.

Create a separate GPR appropriation for the Milwaukee Voucher Program:

(NOTE: The governor made no veto changes to voucher-related items in the budget).

  • Delete the general school aid reduction for the voucher program for non-MPS districts.
  • Require MPS school aids to be reduced by an amount equal to 45% of the cost of the voucher program.
  • Allow the amount of property taxes levied by MPS to offset the voucher reduction to be counted outside of the calculation of two-thirds partial school revenues.
  • Fund voucher summer school programs at the same 40% level as public summer school programs.

This provision essentially establishes a separate GPR appropriation for the voucher program. State aid to schools outside Milwaukee will no longer be reduced to pay for the voucher program. This provision will require the voucher program to "stand alone" as an appropriation in the state budget. WEAC believes the voucher program must eventually be held accountable to the taxpayers for this appropriation and that voucher schools should be required to meet the same standards and assessments as public schools.

Expansion of Charter School Law:

(NOTE: The governor made no veto changes to these items in the budget).

  • Allow, on a pilot basis, the UW-Parkside to establish or contract to establish one charter school in Racine. The charter school could not operate as a high school or enroll more than 400 pupils. Apply various other conditions relating to the creation of this new charter entity.
  • Provide the school district of Racine with "hold harmless" funding so that the district will keep the state aid payments for any pupil who leaves the district to attend this new charter school.
  • The Budget Conference Committee also rejected the Assembly provisions that would have allowed counties, CESAs and WTCS districts to charter schools statewide.

In order for public schools to benefit everyone, they need to be accountable to the voters through their elected representatives on school boards. That is why WEAC feels so strongly that new charter schools must be instrumentalities of the local school districts and that employees of charter schools must be employees of the district with full bargaining rights.

WTCS-related funding items:

  • $1.3M - Provide a 3.25% annual increase in funding for the WHEG grant program.
  • Cut $4.3M -- Limit TOP Grant to just first year students effective July 1, 2001.
  • PARTIAL VETO: $1.5M - Provide $750,000 annually for incentive grants to districts with limited fiscal capacity. The governor's veto eliminates the $750,000 increase for the first year of the budget.
  • PARTIAL VETO: $1.5M - Provide $750,000 annually for additional course selection grants for the purpose of adding sections in courses where student demand exceeds capacity. The governor's veto is a write-down to reduce the increase to $250,000 annually.
  • VETOED: $300,000 - Provide funding for assistive technology grants
  • Require each WTCS board to accept credits transferred from another district or from an institution or college campus within the UW system for general education courses and for courses included under a current plan for coordinating the transfer of credits.
  • Expand the sunset date for expenditures on applied technology centers without referendum approval from January 1, 2002, to July 1, 2003.

WEAC supported these increases in grant funding for the WTCS, but also supported a general aid increase to the WTCS. The conference committee did not provide any general aid increases to the WTCS.

Summary of other items of interest to WEAC:

  • VETOED: Delay $115M in school aid payments to the next biennium. Veto removes provisions delaying the payment and $700,000 GPR for interest on the delayed aid payment.
  • PARTIAL VETO: Vacant positions in state government. Partial vetoes delete 30-day deadline for determining vacant positions; removed non-GPR funding sources from the lapse requirement; eliminates requirement that individual appropriations be part of the DOA secretary's determination and implementation of GPR lapses; and removes the requirement that vacancies identified be deleted. Veto also strikes limitation of lapse provision to only the executive branch. This veto action may help to preserve vacant teaching and support positions at the state's correctional and residential facilities.
  • VETOED: Create a Legislative Council Study Committee of School Funding.
  • VETOED: Create a Legislative Council Study Committee of Special Education Funding.
  • PARTIAL VETO: Healthy schools proposal. K-12 integrated pest management reporting. Partial veto removes certain financial and administrative requirements on school boards and districts for record keeping and reporting.
  • PARTIAL VETO: Retain base level funding for the High School Graduation Test development, but delay test implementation by two-years. Restore the parent opt-out provision to the test. The governor vetoed the two-year delay for implementation of the HSGT. The first HSGT will be given beginning in the 2002-03 schools as originally planned. However, DPI will not be given any additional resources to finish creating the test.
  • VETOED: $2.5M - Eliminate the 5% base budget cuts to DPI. The governor used his veto pen to cut the DPI central office budget by 4%. This will result in a cut of $723,000 to the DPI operations budget. The veto, however, requires that the cuts not be taken from funding of the state's residential schools operated by the DPI. Delete all provisions that would require DPI to report on distribution of federal aids.
  • PARTIAL VETO: $900,000 - Provide $450,000 annually to the minority precollege scholarship program. Governor's partial veto will write-down the appropriation to a 10% increase.
  • VETOED: $300,000 - Aid increase for after school care programs.
  • VETOED: Establish a Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
  • VETOED: Calculator use on statewide Fourth-Grade Examination. Veto removes prohibition on use of calculators while taking the exam.
  • PARTIAL VETO: Create a new Department of Electronic Government. Vetoes make various changes to the administrative and appropriations structure of the new department.
  • VETO: Recall elections of city, village, town or school district officials. Veto deletes revisions to the procedures.

NOT VETOED:

  • Fund state residential schools in 2/3 calculation.
  • Reject Assembly provision allowing TEACH grants to be given to private schools.
  • Require public utilities to provide DOA with energy billing and use data for public schools.
  • Beginning in 2002-2003, prohibit districts from starting school before September 1. Specify that DPI could only grant a waiver of this requirement if it determines there are extraordinary reasons for granting it. Require DPI to promulgate rules to implement and administer this provision.
  • Allow school districts to hold their annual meetings before May 15 or after October 31. Current law requires that meetings may not be held before May 15 or after September 30.
  • Require all public and private schools to offer the Pledge of Allegiance or the national Anthem in grades one to twelve each school day; allow schools to adopt a policy requiring school uniforms; require schools that offer human growth and development classes to offer instruction in marriage and parental responsibility; encourage armed forces veterans to visit schools to discuss their experiences as veterans and establish certain special observance days in statute.
  • Establish a children's vision initiative.
  • $223,700 - Aid increase for the Badgerlink program.
  • $220,000 - aid increase for County Children with Disabilities Education Boards
  • $217,800 - aid increase for school breakfast programs
  • Rename the morning milk program the school day milk program.

For More Information:

Please feel free to contact Bob Burke, WEAC Legislative Program Coordinator, with any questions relating to the information contained in this summary. Bob can be reached by e-mail at burkeb@weac.org or by phone at 800-362-8034 ext. 254.

Posted August 30, 2001

At the Capitol News Archives