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.

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