Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What the WI Budget Cuts Will Mean for Students

Public education has already been under an enormous strain for many years. School districts are strapped for cash, and with tuition costs continually rising, those who are able to go to college often graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. But if Governor Walker gets his way, things are about to get a lot worse!

The Governor is currently pushing a series of cuts that would cripple education in this state – from kindergarten to college. His so called Budget Repair Bill is going to strip K-12 schools in Wisconsin of almost $900,000,000! Cuts in the amount of money that school districts will get from the state, limits on how much schools can levy on property owners, and other restrictions will mean on average $550 less for each student, in each school across the state!

And it’s not just K-12 that is under the chopping block. Walker is going to cut $250 million from the University of Wisconsin system. And these massive cuts come on the heals of the more than $250 million in cuts carried out by the previous governor, Jim Doyle.

Our schools can’t take these kind of hits! Teachers are going to be laid off, programs shut down and even entire schools will likely be forced to go under!

Why is This Happening?

The Governor claims that these cuts are necessary to balance the budget. However, his claims ring hollow. Right before Walker announced these massive cuts, he signed into law tax cuts for big business and the rich that totaled $140 million dollars! The well to do are already not paying their fair share, even before these latest tax cuts! According to U.S. Census data, corporate income tax has gone from 10 % of Wisconsin tax revenue in 1979 to 5.8 % in 2005. Two thirds of corporations in Wisconsin pay no income taxes, according to data from the Dept. of Revenue. Wisconsin is not broke – but working people and students are being taken to the cleaners!

Is There a Better Way?

A 2007 article in Madison’s Isthmus newspaper revealed that simply bringing corporate income tax up to the national average would generate $1 billion in state revenue that could be used for schools and other services.

The non-profit Institute for Wisconsin’s Future has proposed a number of practical policy changes that would generate billions in funding for the state by making the rich pay their fair share, such as increasing the tax rate for the wealthiest residents, reinstating the estate tax for estates over $1 million, taxing 100 percent of capital gains and eliminating numerous loopholes that allow corporations to pay little or no taxes.

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