WAUSAU, Wis. (WXCO) – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is signing bipartisan shared revenue and education bills into law Tuesday.
The shared revenue bill drastically changes how municipalities are funded throughout Wisconsin and also provides more money for education, including vouchers for private and charter schools and slightly higher reimbursement rates for special education.
“Folks, this is a big deal,” Evers wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “Our bipartisan compromise on shared revenue includes at least a 20 percent increase in support to most municipalities statewide.”
Communities in Wisconsin will see a 20% increase as part of the deal. It also includes a provision that allows the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to raise the local sales tax by 2% for the city and 0.4% for the county as those governments stave off bankruptcy.
Education funding increases as part of the deal in the second bill signed into law Tuesday, with per-pupil increases both years of the budget ($325) and 33.3% reimbursement for special education, up from 30%. The deal would provide over $1 billion for K-12 education.
Other provisions for education include raising the low revenue ceiling from $10,000 to $11,000 per student, adding $30 million for mental health services, budgeting $50 million for literacy outcomes, and per-pupil aid increases for independent and charter schools.
Evers previously criticized the bill for taking control away from local governments and adding too many requirements to secure funding.
“Two weeks ago, I reached an agreement with GOP leaders on major provisions of a shared revenue compromise—key parts of which I’m signing into law today—that will mean not only historic increases in support for local communities but historic investments in our K-12 schools, too,” Evers said. “I will also never stop fighting to do the right thing for our kids because I believe, as I’ve often said, that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.”
2023 Assembly Bill 245, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 12, will change the shared revenue formula to primarily benefit rural communities with several conditions, as well as specific requirements for cities over 20,000 people to maintain levels of law enforcement in staffing, funding and the number of citations or arrests made by the municipality’s law enforcement agency. It would also eliminate the personal property tax.
The law also bans local advisory referenda and public health officials from closing businesses for more than 30 days. Other provisions in the bill include prohibiting hiring practices based on demographic factors such as race or sexual orientation, requiring schools to collect and publish data on criminal or ordinance violations on school grounds, and changing some requirements for ambulance or first responder services.
“This is a win for Wisconsin,” Evers said.
State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), who voted against the bill, said that Milwaukee risks losing 15% of its shared revenue under provisions in the bill requiring the city to add 165 police officers.
“This is not progress,” Larson said Tuesday.
In addition to signing A.B. 245, Evers signed S.B. 230, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 11, which addresses the education part of the compromise with Republicans.
This is a breaking news update. More information will be added.