Republicans reach deal on $500 million boost to K-12

GOP lawmakers have reached a deal to pump an additional $500 million into K-12 education, including a $97 million increase for special education.

Both figures are well short of the $1.4 billion increase that Gov. Tony Evers proposed. That plan included a $606 million bump for special ed.

Still, Sen. Luther Olsen, the Education chair and a member of the Finance Committee, urged Evers to back the deal, warning it might be the best he gets.

“If he vetoes it, who knows when we’re going to get to a conclusion, and they need to get their books in order for this next year,” Olsen said of schools. “They want certainty.”

Evers sent a series of tweets this morning, saying the GOP proposal “doesn’t get us where we need to be.”

“I remain hopeful that I can continue to work with Republicans to give our schools and our kids the resources they need to be successful,” Evers tweeted. “There’s still a long way to go in the budget process, but we’re not going to negotiate against ourselves or our kids.”

The deal, which the Joint Finance Committee will vote on today, includes:

*increasing revenue limits by $200 per student in the first year of the budget and $204 in the second year. That would be done mostly through the school aid formula, which divvies up money according to property values. But $25 of the increase in each year would be through categorical aids.

*upping reimbursement of special education costs to 30 percent by the second year of the budget. Republicans will argue that is the target that Evers had set for the reimbursement rate when he was state superintendent. It’s now 25 percent.

*allowing low-revenue districts to up their spending limits to $10,000 per student by the second year of the budget. It’s now $9,400.

*putting an additional $12.5 million into mental health services and collaboration grants over the biennium.

Republicans will put all of the provisions into one motion.