STAR TRIBUNE: Highlights of Wisconsin state budget debated by Senate

Career College Central Summary:

  • The Republican-controlled state Senate began debate Tuesday of the two-year state budget.
  • The Assembly plans to debate the budget on Wednesday, sending it on to Gov. Scott Walker later this week. Walker can use his powerful veto authority to edit or remove items in the $70 billion two-year spending plan.

    • Public schools won't be cut by $127 million as Walker proposed, but they also aren't getting much more money. Funding would be flat the first year of the budget, then go up by about $69 million in the second year, but schools aren't being given the authority to increase spending over the next two years. That means if a district does get more aid, it will have to divert it to lowering property taxes unless a special referendum is approved by voters allowing spending to go up.

    • There will be more opportunities for students who meet income qualifications to attend private voucher schools. The 1,000-student enrollment cap in the statewide program would be lifted, with the new lid set at no more than 1 percent of a district's total students, and that would increase 1 percentage point a year for 10 years until there is no cap. Money to pay for voucher students would now come out of public school aid.

    • The university system's budget would be cut by $250 million, it would be easier to fire tenured faculty, and faculty would have less of a role in making decisions under a weakening of the shared governance principle that national higher education experts say would make Wisconsin unique. In-state tuition would be frozen over the next two years.

    • The state will continue to look out for students attending for-profit colleges. The budget committee rejected plans to eliminate the Educational Approval Board, a 71-year-old state body that regulates for-profit institutions.

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