Thursday, July 9, 2015

Senate, Assembly Pass State Budget Bill

The Senate and Assembly both passed the State Budget this week.   The two-year spending plan narrowly passed both houses of the Legislature with an 18-15 vote in the Senate and a 52-46 vote in the Assembly. It now goes to Governor Walker for his signature, after which it will become law. Governor Walker can still veto items (remove them) from the bill before signing it.

Some highlights of the budget bill include:

  • ·         Restoration of the $150 per pupil aid in the 2015-16 school year and an increase in per pupil aid in the second year of the biennium where payments will be set at $250 per pupil.
  • ·         No changes to the Common School Fund and a slight increase to BadgerLink to maintain current contracts.
  • ·         Funding for a new TEACH 2.0 program. This includes $3 million for a new appropriation to fund the digital learning collaborative established for the statewide web academy and for delivery of digital content and collaborative instruction.  Creates two new grant programs: Information Technology Infrastructure Grants and Teacher Training Grants for Educational Technology.
  • ·         Deletes all state funding for the Wisconsin Media Lab and removes “development and dissemination of instructional materials” from the Educational Communications Board’s duties.
  • ·         Creates a new licensure process for technical education (this includes technology education) that would allow individuals who pass a test developed by DPI to teach technical education subjects.
  • ·         $10,000 to fund a contract with a vendor or vendors to develop and add content to a digital textbook marketplace and resource center. The marketplace would allow authorized personnel from public school districts, charter schools and private schools, as well as home school educators, to purchase digital educational resources.
  • ·         Transfers the Read to Lead  Council from the Governor’s office to the Department of Children and Families. Also deletes the Governor’s Read to lead Development Fund and its two associated appropriations effective June 30, 2017.
  • ·         Students will be required to pass a civic test before graduating high school.
  • ·         $250 million cut to the UW System
  • ·         The definition of “tenure appointment” is deleted from state statute, including language establishing the conditions under which the Board of Regents may grant a tenure appointment to a faculty member

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