The budget that passed the Assembly will spend $464 million more on education than the previous biennial budget. Moreover, we spend more than the governor proposed by nearly $20 million and still were able to provide significant property tax relief.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the budget that we passed last week is how we allow and incentivize school districts to seek reprieve from the crushing costs of providing health care through the Madison-based, teachersunion-controlled WEA Trust.
In the governor’s budget, he proposed increasing per-pupil spending by $264 in 2007, and by $272 in 2008. In the Assembly GOP version of the budget, we proposed $200 increases in per-pupil spending in each of the next two years, BUT …
The GOP version also included a provision – and incentive – that would provide the same per-pupil spending increases as the governor proposed ($264/$272) if school districts choose to bid out their teachers’ health care coverage for a plan that is substantially similar in cost and quality as state employees receive – the same state plan available to legislators, the same plan that Senate Democrats are advocating be available to every Wisconsinite in their universal health care scheme.
Specifically regarding the Waukesha school system:
If the Waukesha School District chooses to not exercise the option of seeking less expensive health care benefits for teachers, it will still be able to spend $7.8 million in new money. However, by exercising its option to seek changes in health care coverage, it stands to see its per-pupil revenue limit increase by $10.4 million – and this is on top of retaining any savings from the switch in health insurance, estimated to be somewhere between $3 million and $6 million.
I wonder how much of this will survive negotiations with the governor.