Legislators Disagree Over Gov. Walker's Sparcity Aid Proposal

Jan 9, 2018

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Very small school districts get additional state financial help in what's called sparcity aid. Those districts say they must provide the classes larger districts do but can't get the same kind of money to do so.

Governor Walker this week proposed allowing smaller districts to raise property taxes without a referendum vote, something he vetoed in the latest budget. It raises the amount of money smaller districts spend on students by $300 next year and $100 more each year until 2022.

Republican Representative Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander was on a schools task force and approved of Walker's efforts...

"....looks like things are coming together. This looks like a win-win for rural school districts. This is something we talked about a couple of sessions ago with the rural schools task force that Speaker Vos had put together. I'm excited to see the end numbers should this piece of legislation move through...."

Democratic Senator Janet Bewley of Ashland county says the Governor originally vetoed the measure he's proposing from the budget....

"...lets put this into context. Sparcity aid is second fiddle to Foxconn. We are not going to be able to make a difference this year because he missed the deadline to get it in the budget. He vetoed the kinds of things we're recommending here. We must put schools first. He took care of Foxconn first, then he talked about the budget...."

Representatative Swearingen says sparcity aid and high cost transportation aid are critical to very small districts. He says if a community has rejected more spending via referendum, the proposed legislation will not force them to do it.

Senator Bewley says she and Representative Sondy Pope offered a sparcity aid bill last summer that was shot down by the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.