MADISON – The president of the Wisconsin Senate doesn’t want to increase general aid for schools in the next two years because they have received billions of dollars in federal aid since 2020.
“I think we’re good for right now,” Senate President Chris Kapenga said in an interview Tuesday. “My gut is there’s not going to be a big push in the caucus to increase funding.”
Wisconsin schools are receiving an extra $2.6 billion in federal aid because of the pandemic. Congress approved that funding in a series of bills starting a year ago.
That funding comes on top of $12.6 billion that Wisconsin schools received this school year through state aid, federal aid, property taxes and other sources, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
According to a 2020 Wisconsin Policy Forum report, Wisconsin lags the nation in K-12 spending increases. Between 2013 and 2018, Wisconsin’s spending increased by 11%, while nationwide the increase was close to 18%.
Kapenga said the additional federal aid means the Legislature doesn’t need to allocate extra state money in the next two years for general aid.
School districts are flush with federal cash right now. Why should the state taxpayers spend even more on them?
I would go further and advocate that we reduce spending on K-12 education for the simple fact that we have fewer students to educate. Why do we continue to increase spending when there are fewer and fewer kids? I understand that it isn’t a direct linear equation, but at some point, we need to spend less.
In 2000, Wisconsin’s government school enrollment was 877,713 students; 871,550 in 2010; 829,935 in 2020. If the schools are educating 41,615 fewer kids than they were just ten years ago, why aren’t costs going down? That’s like six West Bend School Districts that we don’t need anymore. The kids aren’t there.
Keeping spending flat is generous. We should be reducing it.