Gov. Tony Evers today vetoed Senate Bill 821, Republicans' spending plan utilizing the state's projected revenue surplus that failed to fulfill Republicans' own promise to get to two-thirds state funding for K-12 education, does not provide broad property tax relief or reduce reliance on local referenda for school funding, and leaves $123 million less in the state's rainy-day fund.
The governor's veto comes after Gov. Evers called the Legislature into a special session to use $250 million in projected revenue surplus to recommit to two-thirds state funding for K-12 education, including investments in school-based mental health services, special education aid, and tribal language revitalization, and $10 million in sparsity aid for rural schools. More than half of the governor's education plan—$130 million—would have gone to reducing property taxes through equalization aid. Both the Wisconsin State Senate and Wisconsin State Assembly adjourned the governor's special session yesterday, refusing to consider the governor's special session call.
“Investing in our kids and our schools and reducing property taxes should be something everyone can agree on. It's a win-win for our kids and the people of our state,” said Gov. Evers. “We don't have to choose between investing in our kids and reducing property taxes—we can and should do both. So, today I am vetoing this bill with the expectation that Republicans will come to the table and that we can find a compromise that invests in our schools while providing broad, meaningful property tax relief for taxpayers in Wisconsin.”
Since 2011, nearly one million Wisconsinites have gone to referendum to raise their own taxes to support local schools. Last year, on the heels of Republicans' own Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding recommending Wisconsin return to two-thirds funding, Republicans in the Assembly sent Gov. Evers a letter outlining their priorities for the legislative session, including two-thirds state funding for K-12 education in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the 2019-21 biennial budget passed by Republicans failed to get to two-thirds state funding.
“We cannot continue to ignore the fact that for the past ten years, the state has been asleep on the job when it comes to fully funding our schools, and that folks across our state are seeing an increase in their property taxes,” said Gov. Evers. “It's time for Republicans to put politics aside, and let's work together to find a compromise that works for everyone.”
The governor signaled today he could support a compromise that invests in schools and provides broad property tax relief for Wisconsin families and is open to considering an income tax cut or an additional state debt payment. Gov. Evers' veto message for Senate Bill 821 can be found here.