MJS: WI leads nation in cuts to public education

September 6, 2011
Jason Stein

Madison - Wisconsin leads the country so far in cuts to state aid for schools, a new report shows.

The study by the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities looked at the 24 states where the budget data is available.

Wisconsin cut school aid by $635 per pupil this year, topping other states including New York, California and Ohio, according to the report. Over the past four years, the state's annual aid to schools is down $776 per pupil after adjusting for inflation, putting Wisconsin at fourth in the country so far in cuts.

To help balance a $3 billion deficit in the 2011-2013 budget, Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers in July cut state aid to schools by $792 million over two years. Two years ago, then Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and Democratic lawmakers approved smaller but still significant cuts to schools.

Walker and the Republican Legislature also passed cuts to teachers' health and benefits and ended almost all collective bargaining by school employees, opening up potential savings for school districts to offset at least part of the cuts in state aid.

A spokesman for Walker had no immediate comment.