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Democrats hope GOP will increase K-12 funding

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Posted at 10:39 AM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 15:28:40-04

MADISON (AP) —Democrats say they are going to fight to increase funding for K-12 schools after Republicans say they will propose an increase that's less than half of what Gov. Tony Evers called for.

Republicans on Wednesday said they will support a $500 million increase over the next two years. Evers, a Democrat, proposed a $1.4 billion increase.

Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach says Evers did the right thing for K-12 education "and the Republicans have decided to cut it." Erpenbach says he hopes it is not the Republicans' bottom line.

The Legislature's budget-writing Joint Finance Committee was scheduled to vote on education funding at its meeting Thursday. It is working on a budget to send to the full Assembly and Senate for consideration, likely in June.

Assembly leaders announced the plan Wednesday. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he believes Senate Republicans are on board with the general approach.

The funding increase would be less than the $639 million that was put in the last budget under Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The GOP plan would include a $50 million increase for special education funding, less than the $606 million Evers proposed.

Republicans want to increase per-pupil funding by $200 the first year and $204 the second year, similar to what was in the last budget.

Evers says he sees a "lot of opportunity to make progress" with Republicans on education, transportation and criminal justice reform.

Evers issued a statement Wednesday after a roughly 30-minute meeting with Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Vos.

Evers called the meeting productive and said he looks forward to "continued conversation around ways we can find common ground."

So far, Evers and Republicans have found little to agree about. Republicans have killed many of Evers' signature budget proposals, including a Medicaid expansion that was central to Evers' two-year spending plan.

But Evers is striking a conciliatory tone in his statement, saying "Wisconsinites elected us to work together so I hope we can get things done for the people of our state."