Gov. Evers Celebrates Public Schools Week, Highlights 2023-25 Budget Plan to Do What’s Best for Kid
Governor’s budget provides largest increase for K-12 education in state history to improve outcomes, expand access to mental health services, provide universal school meals, invest in computer science and financial […]
|Governor’s budget provides largest increase for K-12 education in state history to improve outcomes, expand access to mental health services, provide universal school meals, invest in computer science and financial literacy, bolster education workforce to keep class sizes small|
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today celebrated the beginning of Public Schools Week by highlightingmajor investments and initiatives from his 2023-25 biennial budget to support Wisconsin kids and K-12 schools across the state.
As highlighted by Gov. Evers earlier this month and announced during his 2023-25 Biennial Budget Message, the governor’s 2023-25 biennial budget proposal provides an increase of more than $2.6 billion for public schools, including the second largest proposed direct investment in state general aids since the 1995-97 biennium, the largest per pupil adjustments since revenue limits were imposed, and a historic investment in special education. Gov. Evers also proclaimed Feb. 27 – March 3, 2023, as “Public Schools Week” in Wisconsin. A copy of the governor’s Public Schools Week proclamation is available here.
In his 2023-25 Biennial Budget Message, Gov. Evers outlined his plan to invest in K-12 schools and do what’s best for kids:
“I’m also here to tell you that the way we’re funding our schools isn’t sustainable, either. We need to change that, too. Budgets reflect our priorities, which is why every budget I’ve ever built began with doing what’s best for our kids. This one is no different.
“Now, let’s remember where we started. Four years ago, we hadn’t seen the largest per pupil revenue limit adjustment or the largest nominal increase in general aid in a decade; in 10 years, not one additional cent had been invested in special education aid; and if I hadn’t been here as governor to use my veto pen and take unilateral action, per pupil aid wouldn’t have increased by more than $300 per student.
“So, we’ve accomplished a lot. And I’m proud of our work. But I’ve also spent four years asking some people in this building to do more. And I’ve heard those same people suggest time and again that because of our previous budgets and federal pandemic aid, our kids and our schools have already received enough. I’d like to respond to that tonight.
“On Monday this week, the CDC released its Youth Risk Behavior Survey report. Here’s what the data show: in 2021, more than 40 percent of high school students felt so sad or hopeless nearly every day for at least two weeks in a row that they stopped doing their usual activities. One in 10 students attempted suicide. One in five students seriously considered attempting suicide.
“And the statistics are especially bleak for teen girls and LGTBQ students. Nearly 60 percent of teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless—double the rate for teen boys. Nearly a third of teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide—think about that, that’s one in three teen girls. And about 70 percent of LGBTQ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. More than 20 percent of LGBTQ students attempted suicide.
“No one who has the privilege of working in this building can read these statistics and say with a straight face that we’re already doing enough. Folks, ‘enough’ will be enough when these are not the statistics we’re reading about our kids in the news. It’s time to get serious.
“As a governor who’s also a grandfather, tonight I am calling on the Legislature to join me in doing what’s best for our kids by approving the largest increase in K-12 schools and education in state history.
“I’ve said before, and I’ll say again tonight: our kids can only achieve their full and best potential when they can bring their full and best selves to the classroom. If we want to have a chance at improving our kids’ outcomes, then we have to shorten the odds.
“We can start by addressing the statistics I just read to you. Let’s make sure every kid in Wisconsin has access to school-based mental health services through our “Get Kids Ahead” initiative. It’s the Year of Mental Health, folks. I know we can get this done.
“Here’s another easy step we can take: let’s make sure kids aren’t hungry—yes, ever, but especially at school. My plan is simple: fully fund universal school breakfasts and lunches so that every kid can be focused on their schoolwork and not when or whether they’ll eat next.
“These are basic steps we can take to help improve outcomes for our kids so they can come to class coursework-ready. Coupled with our investments and initiatives to bolster our educator pipeline to keep class sizes small and improve financial literacy, math, and reading outcomes across our state, we’re going to make sure our kids are ready for success.
“And we’re also going to make sure our kids have the skills and tools they need to join the 21st Century workforce we’re working to build together. So, I’m going to deliver on my pledge to improve access to computer science education in Wisconsin with a $10 million investment to bolster computer science education across our state, including requiring high schools to provide this critical instruction. …”
In September, as students, parents, educators, and staff returned back to school, Gov. Evers, together with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly, announced their shared priorities for the 2023-25 budget, which included investments to improve reading and literacy outcomes, expand access to student mental health services and school nutrition, provided financial literacy and out-of-school programming, address educator staffing shortages to help keep class sizes small, and increase per pupil and special education aids. The governor’s 2023-25 biennial budget proposal delivers on these priorities and includes additional supports for Wisconsin kids, including investments to advance computer science education in schools statewide and additional resources for English Learners.
After a decade of disinvestment, Gov. Evers has worked to invest in public education at every level. Under the governor’s leadership, the state passed an overdue increase in special education aid—the largest increase in state history, per pupil aid was increased by more than $300 per student, and Wisconsin’s K-12 schools have returned to the top 10 in the country after falling to 18th under previous leadership. In the 2021-23 budget signed by the governor, legislative Republicans finally joined the governor in restoring two-thirds funding for public schools for the first time in two decades, hitting that mark by the end of the biennium. However, the governor was clear that the budget sent to his desk by the Wisconsin State Legislature left much unfinished business in providing the support kids and schools deserved, and in December 2021, Gov. Evers directed an additional $110 million investment using federal relief funds to provide $133.72 in supplemental per pupil aid for every Wisconsin school district. In August, Gov. Evers also announced a $75 million investment using federal relief funds to help schools meet staffing needs, keep classroom sizes small, and provide other direct classroom support.
Despite this significant progress, Gov. Evers knows that many kids and schools are struggling and that the current funding system is not sustainable. During his 2023 State of the State address, Gov. Evers announced he will be delivering on the promise he made before the election to use a portion of the state’s more than $7.1 billion projected surplus to make a historic investment in kids and schools, including providing more than $270 million over the biennium to make his “Get Kids Ahead” initiative a permanent program to expand access to school-based mental health support for kids in nearly every school district in the state. This, along with the many other bold investments in the governor’s proposal, will provide the kind of ongoing, sustainable funding Wisconsin schools need to ensure every kid can be successful.
A list of the governor’s updated K-12 initiatives included in the 2023-25 biennial budget proposal is available below:
“Get Kids Ahead” Initiative
Additionally, the governor’s investment will provide $3.6 million in FY 2023-24 and $7.3 million in FY 2024-25 to allow schools to receive Medicaid reimbursement for telehealth origination costs.
Increased Medicaid Support
Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids
Literacy and Improving Reading Outcomes
This budget also provides $742,500 per year for Wisconsin Literacy to conduct adult literacy activities, including expert trainings, personalized consultations, and workforce connections.
Financial Literacy, Mathematics, and Computer Science
In 2022, Gov. Evers signed the National Governors Association Computer Science Compact, pledging to improve access to computer science instruction in Wisconsin’s K-12 schools. Gov. Evers understands that equitable access to computer science instruction is critical to student success and the state’s future. The governor’s plan includes:
Supporting English Learners
Gov. Evers’ budget improves school capacity to support English Learners by investing:
Gov. Evers knows the value experienced teachers provide to their communities and leverages that value amid the shortage by proposing to authorize state agencies and local units of government, including schools, to rehire a retired annuitant teacher under certain circumstances to address workforce recruitment and retention issues. This will make it easier to hire experienced educators and staff.
Supporting Tribal Partners
The governor’s budget also invests $200,000 per year for a grant program administered by DPI to reimburse expenses incurred by school districts that choose to change race-based mascots and logos.
Additional Student Supports
Career and Postsecondary Opportunities
Prevent Opioid Overdoses
Encouraging Family and Outdoor Engagement