Monday, July 29, 2019

WEMTA Submits Comments to FCC about Proposed E-Rate Change

WEMTA worked with our government relations firm and ISTE to submit written comments in opposition to a proposed rule drafted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would cap spending on the federal Universal Service Fund and combine the E-Rate and Rural Health Care programs under a single funding cap.

Both of these proposals have the potential to reduce E-Rate funding, which is used to support the high-speed broadband and telecommunications necessary for digital learning in K-12 schools and public libraries.

You can view WEMTA's full comments on this proposal here: https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/10729345305652/WEMTACommentsonERate.docx 

We will keep you updated on the status of this proposal. 



Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Governor Evers Signs Budget, Eliminates Funding for 1:1 Device Grants


Governor Evers signed the 2019-21 state budget bill into law with partial vetoes on Wednesday afternoon. 

While Evers said the budget fell short in many areas, he believed that vetoing it in its entirety would have led to more division. 

“This budget is a down payment on The People’s Budget and the priorities of the people of Wisconsin,” said Governor Evers. “Today I am signing a better version of the Legislature’s budget with the understanding that we are nowhere near where we need to be, and there is more work for us to do.” 

Evers vetoed 78 items from the bill as passed by the Legislature. Some of WEMTA’s priority items were impacted by vetoes (full details below). Specifically, Governor Evers vetoed out funding for the Personal Electronic Computing Device Grant Program. He also used his partial veto power to increase funding for per pupil aid payments (it is estimated that this change will increase per pupil payments by $87 million).

Evers has pledged to continue working to expand Medicaid, enact non-partisan redistricting reform, reform the school funding formula and provide student debt relief.

Items of Interest to WEMTA in the budget as signed into law (updated budget summary attached):

Eliminates the TEACH Educational Technology Training Grants. Eliminates the TEACH Educational Technology Training Grants. These grants provided $1.5 million in yearly funding to eligible rural school districts and libraries to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology. 

Eliminates Funding for Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant program.  Governor Evers used his partial veto authority to eliminate funding for the Personal Electronic Computing Device Grant Program in both years of the budget. In his veto message, Evers said: “I believe that districts may choose to invest in technology through flexibility provided by the revenue limit increase and through the existing TEACH program. Further, these funds could more effectively be spent on programs that close achievement gaps.”  This grant program provided $9.2 million in yearly funding for the purchase of student one-to-one devices (laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, etc.) and supporting software, curriculum, and training.

Transfers $44 million of e-rate funds, which are used to support telecommunications services in schools and libraries, to fund Broadband Expansion Grants. The budget transfers $44 million in e-rate funds to the Broadband Expansion Grant program.  E-rate provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access and internal connections to schools and libraries. Currently, schools and libraries are not expressly listed as eligible applicants for the Broadband Expansion grants and state statute requires political subdivisions to partner with a telecommunications company or private organization in order to apply.

Eliminates TEACH Curriculum Grant Program. The budget eliminates the TEACH curriculum grants which support the development and implementation of technology-enhanced high school curriculum. These grants currently provide $25,000 per year to eligible consortia of school districts.

Extends the TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure Block Grant program until June 31, 2021 but reduces funding from $7.5 million per year to $3 million per year. The budget extends the TEACH infrastructure grants until June 31, 2021 but reduces funding for the program.  These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. Eligible purchases include: portable devices/hotspots, routers, access points, cabling, firewall services and other items.

Does not Restore State Funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board. The budget as signed into law does not restore state funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board. Media Lab funds support Wisconsin-based K-12 educational media production. Governor Evers had proposed re-instating state funding for Media Lab, but the Joint Finance Committee removed that item from the budget.

Maintains Funding for Information Technology Education Grant (Microsoft IT Academy): The final budget provides $875,000 annually to a recipient (currently Microsoft IT Academy) to provide information technology education to public school and technical college students as well as public library patrons.

Fully Funds Library Service Contracts. The budget provides an additional $133,200 in the first year of the biennium and $168,100 in the second year of the biennium to fully fund the library service contracts. The contracts are currently held by:  the Milwaukee Public Library (MPL), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL), and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).

Fully Funds BadgerLink and Newsline for the Blind. The budget provides an additional $345,800 to fully fund BadgerLink contracts and Newsline for the Blind.

Increases Public Library System Aid.  The budget increases public library system aid by $1 million per year.



Wednesday, June 26, 2019

State Senate Passes Budget Bill


The State Senate voted 17-16 this afternoon to pass the state budget bill. Republican Senators David Craig (R-Big Bend) and Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) joined all Democratic Senators in voting against the bill.

The budget now heads to Governor Evers’ desk. Evers can sign the bill as is, sign it with partial vetoes or veto the bill in full.

See this post for a run-down of all of the ed tech items included in the budget. 



Tuesday, June 25, 2019

State Assembly Passes Budget

The State Assembly voted 60-39 on Tuesday to pass the state budget bill. Before adopting the proposal, the Assembly adopted an amendment that made several changes to what was passed by the Joint Finance Committee. None of the items in the amendment impacted any of WEMTA's priorities. This means that the ed tech budget items passed by the Joint Finance Committee are unchanged. 

The State Senate will vote on the budget bill on Wednesday, after which it goes to the Governor’s desk. Governor Evers can sign, partially veto or veto the budget in full.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Joint Finance Committee Passes Budget, Assembly to Vote June 25


The Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 along party-lines this afternoon to pass their amended version of the state budget bill. It must now be passed by the full Assembly and Senate, after which it can be signed into law by the Governor.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says that the Assembly plans to vote on the budget on June 25. The Senate will likely vote on June 26 or 27.

The following are highlights from the state budget as passed by the Joint Finance Committee that are of interest to WEMTA.



Eliminates the TEACH Educational Technology Training Grants. The Joint Finance Committee approved the Governor's proposal to eliminate funding for TEACH Educational Technology Training Grants. These grants provide $1.5 million in yearly funding to eligible rural school districts and libraries to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology. 

Maintains Funding for Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant program. The Joint Finance Committee rejected the Governor's recommendation to eliminate funding for the 1:1 grant program after the 2019-20 school year. This grant program provides $9.2 million in yearly funding for the purchase of student one-to-one devices (laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, etc.) and supporting software, curriculum, and training. Every Wisconsin school or school district is eligible to receive $125 per 9th grade student.

Transfers $44 million of e-rate funds, which are used to support telecommunications services in schools and libraries, to fund Broadband Expansion Grants. The Joint Finance Committee approved the Governor's proposal to transfer e-rate funds to the Broadband Expansion Grant program and increased the amount of the transfer by about $20 million.  E-rate provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access and internal connections to schools and libraries. Currently, schools and libraries are not expressly listed as eligible applicants for the Broadband Expansion grants and state statute requires political subdivisions to partner with a telecommunications company or private organization in order to apply.

Eliminates TEACH Curriculum Grant Program. The Joint Finance Committee approved the Governor's recommendation to eliminate the TEACH curriculum grants which support the development and implementation of technology-enhanced high school curriculum. These grants currently provide $25,000 per year to eligible consortia of school districts.

Extends the TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure Block Grant program until June 31, 2021 but reduces funding from $7.5 million per year to $3 million per year. The Joint Finance Committee approved the Governor's recommendation to extend TEACH infrastructure grants but to reduce funding.  These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. Eligible purchases include: portable devices/hotspots, routers, access points, cabling, firewall services and other items.

Does not Restore State Funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board. The Joint Finance Committee rejected the Governor's proposal to restore state funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board. Media Lab funds support Wisconsin-based K-12 educational media production. State funding was eliminated for this programming in the 2015-17 state budget.

Maintains Funding for Information Technology Education Grant (Microsoft IT Academy): The Joint Finance Committee Rejected the Governor's proposal to delete the Information Technology Education grant program, which provides $875,000 annually to a recipient (currently Microsoft IT Academy) to provide information technology education to public school and technical college students as well as public library patrons.

 Fully Funds Library Service Contracts. The Joint Finance Committee approved the Governor's recommendation to provide an additional $133,200 in the first year of the biennium and $168,100 in the second year of the biennium to fully fund the library service contracts. The contracts are currently held by:  the Milwaukee Public Library (MPL), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL), and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).


Fully Funds BadgerLink and Newsline for the Blind. The Joint Finance Committee approved the Governor's proposal to provide an additional $345,800 to fully fund BadgerLink contracts and Newsline for the Blind.

 Increases Public Library System Aid.  The Joint Finance Committee voted to increase public library system aid by $1 million per year. The Governor had proposed a $2.5 million increase in the first year of the budget and a $4 million increase in the second year of the budget. 


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Joint Finance Committee Passes Education Budget, Restores 1:1 Grant Funding


The Joint Finance Committee just voted 11-4 along party-lines to pass the Republican-authored K-12 education plan which (among many other things) fully funds the Personal Electronic Computing Device Grant program at $9.2 million in each year of the budget. Governor Evers’ budget would have eliminated funding for the program in the second year of the biennium.

Other items of interest to WEMTA in the motion passed by the Joint Finance Committee include:

·         Overall Education Funding: Total increase in K-12 public education funding of $500 million for the two-year budget period. Under the Governor’s proposal, funding would have increased by $1.4 billion.  

·         Personal Electronic Computing Device Grant Program: Fully funded at $9.2 million per year. Funding for the program would have ended in 2020 under the Governor’s proposal.

·         Common School Fund Re-estimate: Re-estimates school library aids (Common School Fund distribution) from $37 million per year to $37.9 million in 2019-20 and $38.8 million in 2020-21. It is important to note that this does not reflect additional funding being provided by the Legislature. It reflects updated projections on what the anticipated Common School Fund distributions will be during the biennium and could change.

·         BadgerLink and Newsline for the Blind: Increases funding by $345,800 in 2020-21 to increase funding for the contracts with the BadgerLink Vendors and to maintain the current level of services through Newsline for the Blind. This approves the Governor's proposal. 

·         Library Service Contracts: Increases funding by $133,200 in 2019-20 and $168,100 in 2020-21 to fully fund the cost of statutorily-required library service contracts for resources of specialized library materials and other information. The four service providers are: Milwaukee Public Library, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. This approves the Governor's proposal. 

·         Information Technology Education Grant:  Maintains yearly funding of $875,000 per year for the Information Technology Education Grant. These funds are currently awarded to Microsoft IT Academy. Funding for the program would have ended the Governor’s proposal.

·         Public Library System Aid: Increases public library system aid by $1 million per year. The Governor had proposed a $2.5 million increase in the first year of the budget and a $4 million increase in the second year of the budget. 

·         Wisconsin Reading Corps: Provides $700,000 per year for the Wisconsin Reading Corps (an AmeriCorps program that provides on-on-one literacy tutoring.)This program was set to end in 2018-19 but this continues the program into future years.

·         Rural Teach Talent Pilot Program: Increases funding by $1 million per year. The program awards grants to CESAs to coordinate with universities and colleges to provide practicums, student-teacher placement and internships for college students in rural areas.






Friday, May 17, 2019

Ask the Joint Finance Committee to Save the Personal Electronic Computing Device Grant Program!


The Joint Finance Committee is voting next Thursday, May 23 on Governor Evers' proposal to eliminate the Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant program after the 2019-20 school year.

WEMTA opposes the elimination of this grant program, which provides $9.2 million in yearly funding for the purchase of student one-to-one devices (laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, etc.) and supporting software, curriculum, and training. Every Wisconsin school or school district is eligible to receive $125 per 9th grade student.

If you are concerned, contact your state senator and state representative and ask them to oppose the elimination of the Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant Program!

Ask your legislator to support Alternative 1B in Legislative Fiscal Bureau Paper #576

Talking Points:
·        All Wisconsin Schools are eligible for funding under the program--Public school districts, independent charter schools, private schools, and tribal schools.

·        These grants make is possible for schools to effectively incorporate personal electronic computing devices into a classroom and into a high school curriculum.

·        These funds can also be used for software, curriculum, and professional development related to personal computing devices, so even those districts or schools that already have such devices can benefit from these funds.

How to Contact Your Legislators:
The first step in contacting your legislator is knowing who your legislator is. The easiest way to do this is the tool found on the Legislature’s home page, at http://legis.wisconsin.gov. In the right-hand side of that page is a link that says Find My Legislators! Type your address in the box below that link to get the names of your state representative and senator.
· Phone. You may leave a message for your legislator’s Capitol office or indicate your position on legislation through the toll free Legislative Hotline, at 1-800-362-9472.
· E-mail. The e-mail addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.




Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Joint Finance Committee Signs Off on Governor's Proposal To Eliminate TEACH Training Grants


The Joint Finance Committee voted 11-3 along party-lines on Tuesday to approve many of the Governor's proposed state budget recommendations related to the TEACH program. This includes:


  • Extending the TEACH IT Infrastructure Grants through June 30, 2021 but reducing the funding to $3 million per year.
  • Eliminating the TEACH Education Technology Training Grants, which currently provide $1.5 million in funding per year to rural schools.
  • Deleting the Curriculum Grant Program, which provides funding to schools for technology-enhanced curriculum.

  • Democrats on the Committee offered their own motion, which failed on a party-line vote of 3-11, which also proposed eliminating the TEACH Education Technology Grant and Curriculum Grant programs but would have modified the application process for the TEACH infrastructure grants.

    The budget must be approved by the full legislature and signed into law by the Governor before these changes can take effect.


    Monday, May 13, 2019

    Save the TEACH Grants: Contact your State Senator and State Representative TODAY



    The Joint Finance Committee votes TOMORROW on on Governor Evers' proposal to:

    1) Eliminate the TEACH Educational Technology Training and Curriculum Grants 
    2) Transfer $24 million in federal e-rate funding meant for schools and libraries to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. 
    3) Continue TEACH Infrastructure grants until 2021 but reduce funding from $7.5 million to $3 million per year 

    Contact your state senator and state representative before Tuesday at 9 a.m. and ask them to reject the Governor's proposals to cut critical ed-tech grant funding!

    Ask your legislator to support Alternatives B1, B4, D2 and E2  in Legislative Fiscal Bureau Paper #102

    Talking Points:
    • Oppose the elimination of the TEACH  Educational Technology Training and Curriculum Grants. These grants provide $1.5 million in yearly funding to  rural school districts to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology. During 2018, 201 rural school districts received funding from this grant program, enabling hundreds of Wisconsin teachers to receive educational technology training. It’s critical that educators receive the professional learning opportunities they need to choose and integrate quality online resources and tools into the classroom

    • Oppose the transfer of $24 million in federal e-rate funds, which are meant to support telecommunications services for schools and libraries, to the Broadband Expansion Grant program. E-rate funds should continue to support schools and libraries. Currently, schools and libraries are not expressly listed as eligible applicants for the Broadband Expansion grants and state statute requires political subdivisions to partner with a telecommunications company or private organization in order to apply.

    • Support the continuation of the TEACH Infrastructure Grants and maintain full funding of $7.5 million per year. These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. In 2017-18, approximately 250 school districts received TEACH Infrastructure grants. 

    How to Contact Your Legislators:
    The first step in contacting your legislator is knowing who your legislator is. The easiest way to do this is the tool found on the Legislature’s home page, at http://legis.wisconsin.gov. In the right-hand side of that page is a link that says Find My Legislators! Type your address in the box below that link to get the names of your state representative and senator.
    · Phone. You may leave a message for your legislator’s Capitol office or indicate your position on legislation through the toll free Legislative Hotline, at 1-800-362-9472.
    · E-mail. The e-mail addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.





    Friday, May 10, 2019

    Ask Your State Legislators to Save the TEACH Grants!


    The Joint Finance Committee is voting next Tuesday, May 14 on Governor Evers' proposal to:

    1) Eliminate the TEACH Educational Technology Training and Curriculum Grants 
    2) Transfer $24 million in federal e-rate funding meant for schools and libraries to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. 
    3) Continue TEACH Infrastructure grants until 2021 but reduce funding from $7.5 million to $3 million per year 

    Contact your state senator and state representative before Tuesday at 9 a.m. and ask them to reject the Governor's proposals to cut critical ed-tech grant funding!

    Ask your legislator to support Alternatives B1, B4, D2 and E2  in Legislative Fiscal Bureau Paper #102

    Talking Points:
    • Oppose the elimination of the TEACH  Educational Technology Training and Curriculum Grants. These grants provide $1.5 million in yearly funding to  rural school districts to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology. During 2018, 201 rural school districts received funding from this grant program, enabling hundreds of Wisconsin teachers to receive educational technology training. It’s critical that educators receive the professional learning opportunities they need to choose and integrate quality online resources and tools into the classroom

    • Oppose the transfer of $24 million in federal e-rate funds, which are meant to support telecommunications services for schools and libraries, to the Broadband Expansion Grant program. E-rate funds should continue to support schools and libraries. Currently, schools and libraries are not expressly listed as eligible applicants for the Broadband Expansion grants and state statute requires political subdivisions to partner with a telecommunications company or private organization in order to apply.

    • Support the continuation of the TEACH Infrastructure Grants and maintain full funding of $7.5 million per year. These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. In 2017-18, approximately 250 school districts received TEACH Infrastructure grants. 

    How to Contact Your Legislators:
    The first step in contacting your legislator is knowing who your legislator is. The easiest way to do this is the tool found on the Legislature’s home page, at http://legis.wisconsin.gov. In the right-hand side of that page is a link that says Find My Legislators! Type your address in the box below that link to get the names of your state representative and senator.
    · Phone. You may leave a message for your legislator’s Capitol office or indicate your position on legislation through the toll free Legislative Hotline, at 1-800-362-9472.
    · E-mail. The e-mail addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.

    Thursday, May 9, 2019

    JFC Removes 131 Items from State Budget, Declines to Restore State Funding for Media Lab


    The Joint Finance Committee held their first day of voting on the state budget bill today. They voted 11-4 along party-lines to remove 131 items from Governor Evers’ budget. 

    The Committee also took action on the Educational Communications Board (ECB) budget. Democratic lawmakers on the Committee made a motion to support Governor Evers' proposal to restore state funding for the Media Lab run by ECB. This motion failed on a party-line vote on 4-10. As a result, Media Lab will continue to be funded through program revenue (gifts, grants, etc.). 

    The following items of interest to WEMTA were removed from budget consideration today:
    ·         Allowing retired teachers to be re-hired without losing their annuity
    ·         Returning the deposit of settlement funds to the Attorney General’s office rather than the general fund
    ·         Paid planning time for teachers
    ·         The state broadband access goal and broadband report requirements
    ·         Funding and staff increases for the Secretary of State and the State Treasurer

    Friday, March 29, 2019

    Joint Finance Committee and Gov. Evers Schedule Public Hearings on the State Budget


    Both the Joint Finance Committee and Governor Evers announced this week that they are holding public hearings on the proposed 2019-21 state budget (full schedules listed below). These are the only public hearings that will be held on the proposed state budget. The Joint Finance Committee uses feedback received at the public hearings to help them decide which items to keep, modify or remove from the budget. 
    If you have never testified at a budget hearing before, you can use this tool kit to help you prepare your testimony and to let you know what to expect on the day of the hearing. 
    You can also check out this list of in-district listening sessions to see if there are opportunities to meet with your own state senator and state representative. 
    The following educational technology items are included in Governor Evers' proposed 2019-21 state budget:   

    • Eliminates the TEACH Educational Technology Training Grants. These grants provide $1.5 million in yearly funding to eligible rural school districts and libraries to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology.
    • Eliminates the Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant program after the 2019-20 school year. This grant program provides $9.2 million in yearly funding for the purchase of student one-to-one devices (laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, etc.) and supporting software, curriculum, and training.
    • Restores state funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board. Media Lab funds support Wisconsin-based K-12 educational media production. State funding was eliminated for this programming in the 2015-17 state budget. 
    • Extends the TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure Block Grant program until June 31, 2021 but reduces funding from $7.5 million per year to $3 million per year.These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. Eligible purchases include: portable devices/hotspots, routers, access points, cabling, firewall services and other items. 


    2019-21 State Budget Public Hearing Schedule  
    Friday, April 5, 2019 (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
    Pontiac Convention Center
    2809 North Pontiac Drive
    Janesville, WI 53545

    Wednesday, April 10, 2019 (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
    Oak Creek Community Center
    8580 South Howell Avenue
    Oak Creek, WI 53154

    Monday, April 15, 2019 (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
    University of Wisconsin – River Falls
    University Center – Riverview Ballroom #260
    500 Wild Rose Avenue
    River Falls, WI 54022
    Free Public Parking Accessible at: PAY 1 LOT, North Second Street, River Falls, WI 54022

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
    University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
    University Union - Phoenix Rooms
    2430 Campus Court
    Green Bay, WI 54311

    Governor Evers’ Public Hearing on the State Budget
    Wednesday, April 3  (6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., doors open at 5:15 p.m.)
    University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point,
    Laird Room, Dreyfus Center,
    1015 Reserve Street, Stevens Point, WI 54481

    Wednesday, March 27, 2019

    Don't Forget to Vote April 2!

    Wisconsin's Spring Election is April 2, 2019! Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. 

    What's on the ballot: the only statewide race is for the Wisconsin Supreme Court between Judge Brian Hagedorn and Judge Lisa Neubauer. There are many local races across the state, including mayoral, school board and city council races. Find out what's on your ballot here: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/PreviewMyBallot

    How to Find Your Polling Place:You can find your polling place here: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace


    Absentee Ballot Deadlines: The deadline to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you is March 28. Your completed ballot must be received by your municipal clerk no later than April 2 at 8 p.m. 

    In-Person Early Voting: In-person absentee voting (early voting) opportunities vary between municipalities. Some cities allow in-person absentee voting through March 31. Check with your local clerk for details: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/MyMunicipalClerk 


    Sunday, March 24, 2019

    ALA Asking Stakeholders to Contact Congress About Net Neutrality

    The American Library Association (ALA) is asking stakeholders to contact their members of Congress in favor of the Save the Internet Act of 2019, legislation introduced earlier this month that would re-instate Net Neutrality provisions. 

     ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo issued the following statement on the proposed legislation:
    “A free and open internet is critical for equitable access to online information and resources for the nearly 120,000 libraries ALA represents and the communities we serve across America. And, according to a recent Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland poll, an overwhelming majority of people in this country — 86 percent — support strong, enforceable net neutrality rules that protect our lawful internet traffic against blocking, throttling and other interference. That’s why we continue to work on this important issue and appreciate the efforts of lawmakers today to restore net neutrality protections."
    This is how you can find contact information for your members of Congress:

    Saturday, March 2, 2019

    Highlights from Governor Evers Proposed State Budget



    Governor Evers introduced his 2019-21 state budget on Thursday. We are still analyzing the nearly 600-page executive budget document , but highlights so far include:

    General Education

    General School Aids and Fair Funding Proposal: Provides an additional $618,822,000 in general schools aids for the biennium. The Governor also proposes changes to the way state aid calculations are made and restores two-thirds state funding for schools. The Governor also increases the revenue limit and proposes indexing it to inflation.

    Return to Work for Retired Teachers: Allows  districts to rehire a retired annuitant teacher if: (a) at least 30 days have passed since the teacher left employment with a district; (b) at the time of retirement, the teacher does not have an agreement with any school district to return to employment; and (c) upon returning to work, the teacher elects to not become a participating employee and to continue receiving his or her annuity.

    School Libraries, Reading and Ed Tech

    Personal Electronic Computing Device Grants: The Governor recommends eliminating grants for personal electronic computing devices in Fiscal Year 2021.  

    TEACH Program: The Governor Proposes eliminating the educational technology training and technology curriculum grants. He also proposes several other changes to TEACH, including: extending the information technology infrastructure block grant program to June 30, 2021, at $3 million annually; and modifying current law to ensure that the department has the most accurate data when determining eligibility for the information technology infrastructure block grant awards.

    Reinstatement of State Media Lab Funding: Restores State Funding to the media lab run by the Educational Communications Board. The Governor also recommends permitting the board to procure or publish instructional material related to the programs of the state educational radio and television network, and to establish a reasonable handling charge to cover the costs of providing such material.

    Library Service Contracts:  Provides an additional $ 133,200 in the first year of the biennium and $ 168,100 in the second year of the biennium to fully fund the library service contracts.

    BadgerLink and Newsline for the Blind: Provides an additional $345,800 in the second year of the biennium to fully fund BadgerLink contracts and Newsline for the Blind.

    Deposit of Settlement Funds:  Repeals statutory language changes made in 2017 Wisconsin Act 369 requiring the Attorney General to deposit all settlement funds into the general fund. However, the budget creates a new appropriation for the deposit of discretionary settlement funds, which may be used by the Department of Justice at the discretion of the Attorney General.

    Wisconsin Reading Corps:  Provides $700,000 in each year of the biennium for the Wisconsin Reading Corps. The program provides one-on-one literacy tutoring for students. Funding for the program is currently set to expire on June 20, 2019. The Governor is requesting that the program continue.

    Public Libraries

    Public Library System Aid: Provides an additional $2.5 million in funding for public libraries in the first year of the biennium and an additional $4 million in the second year of the biennium.

    Recollection Wisconsin: Supports public library digital archiving efforts by expanding WISELearn authority.

    Broadband

    Broadband Expansion Funding: Increases expenditure authority for the  broadband expansion grant program to $39.3 million in each year of the biennium, including: (a) a minimum of $2 million annually in funding that is already budgeted from the universal service fund; (b) a transfer of $6.9 million in FY20 and $17.3 million in FY21 from the Department of Administration e-rate funds; and (c)an allocation of $30.4 million GPR in FY20 and $20 million GPR in FY21 to the grant program. The Governor also recommends increasing expenditure and position authority to provide an additional position in the State Broadband Office to assist with the expanded broadband expansion grant program.

    Initiatives to Expand Broadband: Includes several initiatives to encourage the expansion of adequate broadband access to all Wisconsin residents, including: (a) modifying current law to specify that it is the goal of the State of Wisconsin that by 2025 all homes and businesses within the state have access to high-speed broadband that provides a minimum download speed of at least 25 megabits per second and an upload speed of at least 3 megabits per second; (b) modifying current law to adjust the definition of broadband "underserved" as an area that lacks access to service of download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 3 megabits per second and "unserved" as an area that lacks access to service of download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 1 megabit per second; and (c) modifying several statutory provisions that discourage municipalities from providing broadband service to residents in broadband "unserved" and "underserved" areas.

    Transfer of E-Rate Funds to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program: Transfers $6.9 million in FY20 and $17.3 million in FY21 in federal e-rate funds to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program at the Public Service Commission.

    Comprehensive Broadband Report:  Directs the Department of Administration and the Public Service Commission to submit a joint report to the Governor and the Legislature, no later than June 30, 2020, that provides updates on emerging broadband technologies, recommendations on how to provide incentives to telecommunications providers to serve unserved or underserved areas of Wisconsin and proposals on how existing state resources can be leveraged to serve those areas.

    Secretary of State and State Treasurer

    New Resources for the Secretary of State: Provides funding for the Secretary of State to hire a new records management specialist position for the office.

    New Resources and Roles for the State Treasurer: Provides an additional $662,100 to allow the Treasurer to hire three new staff: a chief of staff, financial specialist and constituent services and scheduling specialist. The Governor also recommends naming the State Treasurer to the private sector retirement security plan committee and the student loan refinancing study committee.

    Moves Secretary of State and State Treasurer Offices: Provides funding to move the offices of the Secretary of State and State Treasurer to a new location. They are currently located in the basement of the Capitol.