WisDems: New ‘Walker Tax’ report shows Wisconsin headed for record school referendum levels 

Contact: Alex Japko, alexj@wisdems.org

Evers: “Frankly, that’s a Scott Walker tax.”
In case you missed it, Scott Walker’s failure to adequately fund Wisconsin’s schools is going to cost taxpayers a lot this year.A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum shows that 2018 is on pace to be the highest year on record for dollars raised by school district referendums in state history. Wisconsin taxpayers have already approved $648 million this year and there’s another $1.4 billion on the ballot in November.

It’s the latest piece of evidence that Scott Walker and Republicans have failed to give schools and students the support they need–and that he’s left local communities and taxpayers to pick up the tab. Walker slashed $800 million from education funding when he got into office, and funding levels remain lower than when he first took office.

Read the Journal Sentinel story here or excerpts below:

Wisconsin school referendums seek more than $1.4 billion in borrowing on November ballots

By Annysa Johnson

Wisconsin taxpayers will be asked to commit more than $1 billion in additional funding for their public schools in the November election. And if they pass at the rates seen in recent years, 2018 could be the highest year on record for dollars raised by school district referendums, according to a new report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

According to the report, voters already approved about $648.1 million in referendums for 48 of the state’s 421 school districts this year. And next month, 61 districts will seek an additional $1.4 billion. Together, they appear on track to exceed the more than $1.7 billion approved in 2016.

Democratic candidate and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said Tuesday that the rise in referendums is “directly related” to the budget cuts Gov. Scott Walker made to schools after he first got into office in 2010.

“Frankly, that’s a Scott Walker tax,” said Evers, who maintains his plan to increase school spending by $1.4 billion in 2019-’21 would reduce the need for school referendums.

…In the past, the caps increased with inflation. But they were cut with the passage of Act 10 in 2011 and have been frozen since 2014-’15.

As school district budgets were squeezed, many turned to referendums for additional tax dollars — pushing up local property taxes to pay for capital projects, maintain and expand programs and services, and finance costly retirement benefits.

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