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Surplus can fund schools and reduce taxes




It seems a worthwhile investment. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers wants to use a state tax surplus to help fund the state’s public schools. The state is sitting on $620 million in tax revenue it didn’t expect, and now lawmakers are at odds over how to spend it. Evers is calling for increasing education funding by $252 million. That is being met with resistance by legislative leaders, who prefer all of the surplus be returned to taxpayers. It shouldn’t. Evers plan would allow the state to finally make good on a promise to have the state cover two-thirds of the cost of funding Wisconsin’s schools. That is not a partisan idea. It was decades ago that then Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Rrepublican, called for the state to fund two-thirds of the costs of public education. Even Assembly Speaker Robin Vos had called for boosting education funding to the two-thirds level, but now claims that should be done as part of the budget rather than using the surplus. The fact is providing more state money to schools not only gives them the resources they need, particularly as the costs of special education continue to rise. It also will help lower property taxes. More money from the state means less reliance on local referendums to keep schools operating. Under Evers plan, we don’t have to decide between funding schools and lowering taxes, because his plan does both.

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