Wisconsin members of Congress ask state legislators to revise budget for schools

    U.S. Capitol Photo by Senate Democrats 2020 CC BY 2.0
    U.S. Capitol Photo by Senate Democrats 2020 CC BY 2.0

    In a letter to Republican leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature, Democratic U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, Ron Kind and Mark Pocan asked state lawmakers to revisit their lean budget proposal for public schools. Last week the Department of Education warned state officials that the GOP budget proposal could result in the loss of $1.5 billion in federal funds because it fails to maintain a sufficient state investment in education.

    “Republicans in the state legislature are already poised to leave behind billions of federal dollars available to Wisconsin for Medicaid expansion,” Moore, Kind and Pocan wrote. “We urge you not to make the same mistake again. That is why we implore you revisit the proposed education budget and guarantee Wisconsin receives the federal funding it needs to ensure that every student has an opportunity to succeed.”

    The Republican budget proposal, which commits less than one-tenth of the money for schools that Gov. Tony Evers asked for in his budget proposal, relies heavily on federal COVID relief money to fund general programs. 

    Democrats on the Legislature’s budget committee pointed out that the federal relief funds represent a one-time infusion of cash, specifically to cover expenses related to the pandemic. 

    But Republicans called their education budget a “historic investment” in schools in press releases on Friday, counting the federal money as part of that investment on the same day the Department of Education warned that the state could lose its federal COVID relief funding.

    “By failing to set aside adequate funding for our schools, you are unnecessarily jeopardizing billions in federal relief available to Wisconsin,” the members of Congress wrote in their letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

    “Losing federal COVID relief funding will undoubtedly hurt school districts across rural, urban, and suburban areas as they are forced to absorb additional costs created by the pandemic,” the lawmakers added.

    “This past year has been hard on Wisconsin families,” they concluded, “let’s not make the next two years harder than they need to be. Thank you for your consideration of our request.”

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    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.