Time to Speak Up on the Wisconsin State Budget!
The Joint Finance Committee will be holding six public hearings, starting next week, on the Wisconsin state budget for the next two years.
Here are some highlights (and low-lights) from Governor Walker’s 2017-19 budget proposal:
– A $200 per-pupil increase for students in public schools in each of the next two years
ASK: Keep this increase! Students with disabilities are students first and foremost, so this would help!
– $6 million across the biennium for school mental health, including new funding for school social workers, grants for districts to partner with community mental health providers, and training in important programs including Trauma Sensitive Schools and Youth Mental Health First Aid
ASK: Keep this crucial investment for students with mental health needs!
– A $217 per-pupil increase for private special needs voucher schools, as well as an expansion of the special needs voucher program (more money for a program in which students must give up rights and protections at the door)
ASK: Prioritize the public schools that serve all our students in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, rather than vouchers that require students to give up their IDEA rights and protections!
– The budget does NOT include an increase in special education categorical aids — this would make TEN YEARS of flat funding in the face of growing needs and inflation!
ASK: INCREASE special education funding to the level proposed by the Department of Public Instruction (28% reimbursement rate for 2017/18, 30% for 2018/19).
There are six Joint Finance Committee public hearings on the state budget, opportunities to testify in person (two-minute time limit, which is about 250 words). The Wisconsin Public Education Network — Stop Special Needs Vouchers is a member organization — has wonderful resources on making your voice heard, whether or not you are able to go to a hearing in person, at http://www.wisconsinnetwork.org/blog/budget
If you are able to attend a public hearing, be sure to look for the #GoPublic signs to connect with other public education supporters.
- Monday, April 3, 10am – 5pm – UW-Platteville, Ullsvick Hall,30 South Hickory Street, Platteville, WI 53818
- Wednesday, April 5, 10 am – 6pm – State Fair Park, Exposition Center, 8200 West Greenfield Avenue, West Allis, WI 53214 (Milwaukee)
- Friday, April 7, 10am – 5pm – Berlin High School, Auditorium, 222 Memorial Drive, Berlin, WI 54923
- Tuesday, April 18, 10am – 6pm – Spooner High School, Auditorium, 801 County Highway A, Spooner, WI 54801
- Wednesday, April 19, 10am – 5pm – Ellsworth High School, Gymnasium, 323 West Hillcrest Street, Ellsworth, WI 54011
- Friday, April 21, 10am – 5pm – Marinette High School, Auditorium, 2135 Pierce Avenue, Marinette, WI 54143
One of the many ways to make your voice heard if you can’t be there in person (many of us do have weekday commitments, after all!) is to email written testimony to: BudgetComments@legis.wisconsin.gov
Send a copy to your own state legislators as well — you can look them up with the “Find My Legislators” search at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/
Questions? Let us know at StopSpecialNeedsVouchers@gmail.com
Thank you for standing up for students with disabilities!