Gov. Scott Walker will release his biennial budget and will give an address at the Capitol about his budget priorities today. Over the past few weeks, he has released parts of his budget, and below is a preview of what he will include in several areas.
University of Wisconsin System
The UW System will see a $181 million funding increase over the biennium, a contrast from the more than $300 million in cuts the UW System took in the last budget.
That includes a $20 million investment in the UW System’s economic development programs and $2 million in the System’s new flexible option online degree program.
Walker also said he wants to establish 30 core general education credits that can be transferred within the UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System. Private colleges have an option to participate in the program.
He said Sunday he would continue funding the UW System using a block grant, which gives the UW System more flexibility in how it spends the money.
Walker seeks to invest $129 million in public schools, which compares to the $834 billion he cut from public schools two years ago. Democrats called the increase a “paltry” amount given the last budget’s cuts.
He also plans on spending $13.5 million to create an evaluation system for the state’s teachers and principals, which he said would cover the districts’ costs of $80 per teacher.
He will also fund a Department of Public Instruction proposal that would require high school students to take the ACT and its precursor tests.
Walker also plans to expand voucher schools in the state, which currently only exist in Milwaukee and Racine. Democrats, as well as some Republican senators, voiced their concerns with the voucher school expansion coming at the cost of school districts.
Walker plans to turn down the full Medicaid expansion in the federal health care law. He is instead proposing an alternate plan in which he would let in 82,000 childless adults who are currently on the wait list for Medicaid and move less poor parents in Medicaid to private insurance exchanges. More details on the plan will come out in his budget.
A Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis released last week showed that would cost the state more than the full expansion, for which the which the federal government would never pay less than 90 percent. However, Walker said he was uncertain whether the federal government could meet those promises in the future due to its debt problems.
Walker said two weeks ago he wants to give $75 million in tax credits to businesses, $10.9 million in the state jobs agency’s marketing efforts, $6 million in a loan program and lift the cap on a tax credit program.
Walker also wants to invest $25 million in venture capital, an area the Legislature did not agree on last session. A large part of their disagreements stemmed from certified capital companies, or CAPCOs, that some think are less accountable and effective. Walker said he would not include CAPCOs in his budget.
Walker will invest about $30 million in mental health services. He also wants to increase law enforcement spending by $14 million, including $4 million for sexual assault victim services.