MADISON, Wis. (WMDX) – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Republican leaders in the Wisconsin Legislature have reached an agreement on shared revenue and education funding Thursday.
The announcement came after weeks of back-and-forth between Evers and Republicans, with the main issue being how the City of Milwaukee could raise sales taxes.
Communities in Wisconsin will see a 20% increase as part of the deal. It also includes a provision that allows the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to raise the local sales tax by 2% for the city and 0.4% for the county as those governments stave off bankruptcy.
“For too long, our communities have been asked to do more with less, and this agreement is critical to ensure our local partners have the resources they need to meet basic and unique needs alike,” Evers said in a release. “This compromise will be transformative for our communities and our state, and coming to an agreement in principle on major parts of this proposal is a significant milestone in my negotiations with Republican leaders over the past few months.”
Education funding increases as part of the deal, with per-pupil increases both years of the budget ($325) and 33.3% reimbursement for special education, up from 30%. The deal would provide over $1 billion for K-12 education.
Other provisions for education include raising the low revenue ceiling from $10,000 to $11,000 per student, adding $30 million for mental health services, budgeting $50 million for literacy outcomes, and per-pupil aid increases for independent and charter schools.
Evers previously criticized the bill for taking control away from local governments and adding too many requirements to secure funding.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said that the latest offer by the GOP was the “last, best offer to the Governor.”
“The offer we put forth is fair. It is a product of months of work and negotiations,” LeMahieu said in a statement. “The Senate and Assembly have put forth a good-faith effort to reach a deal with the Governor on shared revenue and provide financial stability for the City and County of Milwaukee.”
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that the deal includes historic investments in school choice and public safety.
“Republicans won the argument, and the bill guarantees that new state revenue may only be used for police, fire, and EMS services,” Vos said.
2023 Assembly Bill 245 would change the shared revenue formula to primarily benefit rural communities with several conditions, as well as specific requirements for cities over 20,000 people to maintain levels of law enforcement in staffing, funding and the number of citations or arrests made by the municipality’s law enforcement agency. It would also eliminate the personal property tax.
The bill also bans local advisory referenda and public health officials from closing businesses for more than 30 days. Other provisions in the bill include prohibiting hiring practices based on demographic factors such as race or sexual orientation, requiring schools to collect and publish data on criminal or ordinance violations on school grounds, and changing some requirements for ambulance or first responder services.