Republicans controlling the Wisconsin state legislature have structured a proposed two-year budget that will make state elementary and high schools ineligible for $2.3 billion in federal funding for coronavirus recovery, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinnel reports.
To qualify for the federal aid money from the American Rescue Plan, the state had to allot schools an additional $387 million over the next two years for improvements in things like internet accessibility, mobile technology and remote learning, as well as to upgrades such as the schools’ ventilation systems.
Wisconsin legislators planned for just an additional $128 million more for schools over the next two years. Republicans claimed it was because the federal match would only be $1.5 billion. According to their calculations, the state will collect an additional $4.4 billion in tax receipts in the next three years.
“We will continue to consider the potential impact of the [federally required maintenance of effort] for the future, but we will not paralyze our state budget process,” Republican state senator Howard Marklein, co-chairmen of the finance committee, said in a statement last week. “We made strategic investments in K-12 and higher education yesterday that will move Wisconsin forward and we will continue to do what is right for the taxpayers of our state.”
“Unless Republicans properly fund our schools, all 421 school districts in Wisconsin will lose out on a combined $2.3 billion. No more excuses, no more games … it’s time for Republicans to do the right thing because the budget clock is ticking,” Democratic state senator Jon Erpenbach said in a statement.