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Category: State budget

$16 million in grants will support maternal and infant health initiatives across Wisconsin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced a $16 million, statewide investment Wednesday to improve maternal and infant health, especially among people of color.

The funding, largely made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act, will be split between the state health department’s Maternal and Child Health program, the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Healthier Wisconsin Endowment and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health. Each entity will receive $5.5 million.

The MCW endowment fund and UW-Madison will use the funding to also support community grants for programs that focus on the social conditions that contribute to racial disparities in Wisconsin’s maternal and infant mortality rates.

Wisconsin’s special ed fund only covers a third of what schools spend. See what it means for your district.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Julie Underwood, former chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education, served on the Blue Ribbon Commission and is currently pushing for 90% coverage, in her role as president of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools.

“It is a federal mandate to educate all children with disabilities; we have to provide them a free appropriate public education, as we should,” Underwood said. “But when the state stepped back from funding that more and more, it became more and more expensive for local school districts to make good on that promise.”

UW Regents request $24.5M from state for Wisconsin Tuition Promise

The Cap Times

Under the new Wisconsin Tuition Promise starting next fall, in-state students from low income families will be able to attend any school in the University of Wisconsin System for free.

The program, announced this week, will waive the costs of tuition and fees that remain after receiving financial aid for UW System students whose household incomes are less than $62,000 per year.

UW System budget request seeks additional $262.6M from Legislature

Wisconsin Public Radio

The University of Wisconsin System is seeking $262.6 million in additional state funding in its two-year budget request and plans to use the bulk of that to boost employee pay by 8 percent by 2025. Regents passed the proposal unanimously even as some expressed concern that it could be a tough sell with Republican state lawmakers who increased the system’s base funding by $16.6 million last year.

 

UW System proposes statewide tuition waiver program for low-income students

Wisconsin Public Radio

Some University of Wisconsin-System students from low-income families will have their tuition and fees waived under a new initiative announced by UW System President Jay Rothman.

The Wisconsin Tuition Promise will waive remaining costs not covered by financial aid for students from families with incomes below $62,000 per year beginning in fall of 2023.

UW System wants to expand UW-Madison’s tuition promise program to all UW campuses. Will the state support it?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

At a Monday news conference on the UW-Milwaukee campus, UW officials framed the scholarship program as a “gamechanger” that will help more students graduate and ease the workforce shortage straining the state.

“We are in a war for talent,” UW System President Jay Rothman said. “We are not graduating enough people with four-year degrees and graduate degrees in order to help sustain the economic growth of the state. We hear that from employers all the time.”

Hundreds press for in-state tuition, driver’s licenses for undocumented Wisconsinites

The Capital Times

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has included provisions in both of his state budget proposals to allow Wisconsinites who entered the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses and identification cards, and to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition to attend college in Wisconsin. Republican lawmakers stripped those provisions from the budget in both cases.

Tony Evers calls for education spending, $150 checks to residents in state of the state address

Wisconsin State Journal

Evers, who is seeking a second term this November, also touted the billions of dollars of federal stimulus funds he has allocated over the course of the pandemic to businesses and farmers. Adding to that, he announced on Tuesday plans to spend $25 million of those funds to freeze tuition at University of Wisconsin System for two years and another $5 million to expand counseling and provide mental health programs for members of the Wisconsin National Guard.

Evers calls on Legislature to approve $150 taxpayer refund

Wisconsin State Journal

Evers also announced that he was tapping $25 million in federal pandemic relief money to pay for continuing a tuition freeze at the University of Wisconsin System for another year. The Legislature lifted the tuition freeze for this year, but the UW Board of Regents opted not to raise tuition. Evers is providing funding to pay for the current freeze and another year, the 2022-2023 school year.

Evers announces in-state tuition freeze, mental health investment for UW System campuses

The Badger Herald

Evers, who is the 46th Wisconsin Governor, gave his State of the State address at the Feb. 15 joint convention of the Wisconsin Legislature. In his address, Evers announced plans to address rising gas prices, a struggling job market and supply shortages. While Wisconsin families have faced much of the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, Evers said he wanted to account for students in higher education who have been under considerable stress throughout the pandemic.

UW-Madison chancellor calls political divide the greatest threat to public universities

Wisconsin State Journal

In her farewell address to the UW Board of Regents Thursday, Rebecca Blank also took aim at state involvement in campus building projects, criticized some “one-size-fits-all” University of Wisconsin System policies and again called for raising in-state undergraduate tuition.

Clipping the governor’s control of federal funds

Wisconsin Examiner

Quoted: Menzie Chinn, an economist with the Robert M. LaFollette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is skeptical of the idea that federal pandemic relief spending is the primary cause of recent inflation.

“It’s certainly part of the explanation – but other economies (UK, Euro Area) have also seen an acceleration of inflation,” Chinn says, with higher oil prices, continued supply disruptions and other factors being the main contributors. “One could argue that part of the inflation is due to too little spending, say, on childcare support, which would enable parents to work.”

Mark Copelovitch, a La Follette School political scientist whose work looks at the intersection of economics and politics, says that the ability of the U.S. to finance its debt at virtually no interest shows that the marketplace — essentially, the world’s lenders — isn’t worried about the sustainability of the economy.

On inflation, he considers shortages such as in semiconductors, a key component of cars, or the spike in energy prices, not pandemic relief aid, as leading culprits for rising prices. “Most of what’s driving the inflation is global supply chain issues during a pandemic,” Copelovitch says.

He credits pandemic relief, in the form of direct aid to households as well as other forms of support as well as directly to the state, for preserving incomes, keeping businesses going in the pandemic, and enabling the economy to recover much more quickly than it might have otherwise.

“The reason we have this big surplus now in Wisconsin and elsewhere is because all the other things basically prevented people’s incomes from going down — which meant tax revenue didn’t crater like we worried it was going to,” Copelovitch says.

Children of UW System alumni living outside Wisconsin would be eligible for in-state tuition under GOP bill

Wisconsin Public Radio

People from outside Wisconsin would qualify for in-state tuition at University of Wisconsin System schools under a new Republican bill, so long as their parents are UW alumni. Authors say the bill would address declining enrollment at state schools and address workforce shortages, while opponents say it would cut college funding and raise fairness issues.

Wisconsin budget reserves, federal funds could be factors in governor’s race

Wisconsin Public Radio

“(Evers) has resources to do things that I think were not expected and are available without him having to raise taxes to make it possible,” said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The fact that he is basically in sole control of distributing the federal COVID relief funds means that he’s satisfying a lot of different constituencies heading into the 2022 midterm elections without paying the price of being branded as a liberal Democrat who has raised taxes to make that happen.”

UW Expert: Child Tax Credit End Could Be ‘Devastating’ for WI Families

WXPR

Wisconsin families may have received their last Child Tax Credit payment for a while, as Congress has missed its year-end deadline to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better framework.

The roughly $2 trillion package would have reauthorized the expanded Child Tax Credit through 2022. Parents received their last credit on Dec. 15, and Timothy Smeeding, professor of public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin Madison, said to get the rest of the aid, they’ll need to file their income tax returns for 2021.

“So, there’s still another $1,500 or $1,800, depending on how old the child is, that will come to them once they file their taxes this next spring,” he said.

How your tax dollars keep Milwaukee renters in danger from faulty wiring

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: The Journal Sentinel’s findings that tax dollars are going to landlords who fail to fix potentially dangerous electrical violations are “shocking and terrible,” said Mitch, a housing law expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who legally goes by just his first name.

“It would be as if a health inspector found rats at a restaurant and said, ‘Here’s a whole bunch of government coupons that you can use to give out and make your food less expensive — never mind the rats,’” he said.

Mitch, who oversees the UW-Madison Neighborhood Law Clinic, which primarily serves low-income renters, said it’s possible to hold landlords accountable while still protecting tenants.

“We can have safe cars, and people still buy cars,” he said. “We can have regulations on restaurants, and we still have restaurants. We have regulations on banking, and we still have banks. Every industry has regulations, and it still survives.”

As a new academic year begins, the state should recommit itself to the Wisconsin Idea

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This August, faculty, staff, and more than 160,000 students at the 13 University of Wisconsin campuses are hard at work, getting ready for a new academic year.  Wisconsinites are justifiably proud of the UW System, and with good reason. Our public university system, built on the foundation of the Wisconsin Idea, truly serves every corner of the state.

Gov. Tony Evers Calls Special Session On Increasing School Spending

Wisconsin Public Radio

Noted: The governor said the session would be an opportunity to make investments in education he believes should have been included in the budget. GOP lawmakers approved an education spending plan that was roughly $750 million less than the governor originally requested for K-12 schools. For the University of Wisconsin System, the GOP-backed budget included an increase of just $8 million over two years, a fraction of the $191 million proposed by the governor.

Why Did Evers Veto An Update to Withholding Tables After a Tax Cut?

PBS Wisconsin

Quoted: “This is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. I have no idea why he did that,” said John Witte, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus who specializes in tax and budget policy.

Witte said there is speculation that Evers vetoed the change in the withholding tables because the governor hopes Democrats will take control of the Legislature in the 2022 election and repeal the tax cuts. By not changing the withholding tables, most taxpayers wouldn’t notice a difference, that thinking goes.

“If he changed the tables the tax cuts would be permanent,” said Witte.

Tom Still: Wisconsin must step up to compete for federal R&D dollars

Wisconsin State Journal

States around the country are gearing up for projects that could pair engineering schools and industry, but the dean of UW-Madison’s College of Engineering warned this week the state will be at a disadvantage unless there’s more investment in infrastructure needed to compete. “If we don’t act soon, we’re going to lose out,” said Ian Robertson, dean of Madison’s 4,500-student engineering college. “Others are going to get ahead of us. They’re all gearing up to go after the Endless Frontier money. It’s that simple.”

Gov. Evers stresses importance of vaccines after someone at budget signing event tests positive for COVID-19

CBS 58

Quoted: Ajay Sethi, professor of population health sciences at UW-Madison, said this scenario is proof the pandemic is not over.

“It’s a good reminder that anybody who is not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 really ought to do so because as soon as you leave your house without a mask, you have a risk of catching the virus,” said Sethi.

‘I Think The Governor Wins’: Experts Weigh In On Political Spin Of State Budget

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at UW-Madison, agreed the tax cut will likely play to the governor’s advantage during campaign season.

“He will not be easy to paint as a tax-and-spend liberal,” Burden said. “I think (the tax cut) takes the edge off some of the criticism that Republicans would use.”

Wisconsin Assembly approves state budget, Senate up next

Wisconsin State Journal

The centerpiece of the two-year budget is a GOP-authored plan to cut $3.3 billion in income and property taxes, made possible largely by the state’s unprecedented $4.4 billion surplus. The budget also would end an eight-year freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition and hold K-12 funding largely flat. All in all, the budget would spend about $4 billion less than Evers proposed.

GOP Lawmakers Want Answers On Unemployment Fraud In Wisconsin

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: One interpretation of that data, said economist Noah Williams of the conservative Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is that “fraud detection basically dropped to near zero” in 2020.

“We had a huge explosion in claims in 2020, but the actual cases in the state that were referred for fraud fell,” Williams said. “We don’t know how big the problem is, but … I wouldn’t have expected the absolute number of cases to fall.”

Wisconsin projects $4.4B more in tax revenue by mid-2023 following ‘unprecedented’ tax collections

Wisconsin State Journal

In light of the new projections, Evers also announced that an estimated $300 million in cost savings across 18 state agencies — which the governor called for during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — would be returned to those departments. That includes more than $45 million to the University of Wisconsin System, $5 million to the Wisconsin Technical College System and nearly $25 million to the Department of Children and Families.

Wisconsin Republicans approve $1.5 billion for state building projects

Wisconsin State Journal

A little less than half of the GOP proposal, or nearly $629 million, is earmarked for the University of Wisconsin System. Evers had asked for about $1 billion for UW campuses. Humanities is on track to be demolished by 2030 because the committee approved $88 million for a new academic building that will move many academic departments housed in Humanities to the new facility. A quarter of the cost will be covered through fundraising with the rest supported through state borrowing.