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The Budget and How It May Affect Those with Disabilities Part 2

This is the second of three alerts. This alert covers education. A previous alert covered items in the Department of Health Services budget. The third alert will cover transportation and other items.

Early Care and Education: The budget request significantly reduces state funding for child care, Head Start and 4-year-old kindergarten.

  • Reduce funding for the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program by over $112 million each year of the two year budget, achieved by implementing a waiting list, increasing co-payments, tightening eligibility, and adjusting payment rates to child care providers.
  • Reduce state funding that supplements federal Head Start by 10%, resulting in $6.26 million cut per year.                                                                                                          
  • Cut the start-up grants for 4-year-old kindergarten programs by 10%, freezing funding for existing 4K programs.
  • Modify the Youngstar Quality Rating and Improvement System by penalizing the lowest quality child care centers, and reducing the incentive payments to the highest performing centers.

Education: The budget request substantially reduces state funding for education:

  • Reduce general equalization aid to school districts by $800 million over two years, plus reduce the revenue cap by 5.5% so school districts cannot raise property taxes to make up for lost aid. This results in a $1.7 billion cut in revenue for local school districts. As classroom sizes increase due to budget cuts, opportunities for inclusion of students with disabilities could be reduced.
  • Freeze special education categorical aid to school districts, causing the percentage of costs reimbursed by the state to drop from 27.9% to 24.5% by 2013.
  • Freeze high cost special education aids to school districts causing the percentage of costs reimbursed by the state to drop due to rising costs.
  • Repeal some categorical aids at a loss of $29 million over two years for schools.
  • Provide $40 million for the expansion of school choice and charter schools to middle- and high-income families (remove the cap on income for eligibility.)

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