Sorting out how Scott Walker refers to historic funding for schools in Wisconsin

Gov. Scott Walker spoke to fifth-grade students at Ronald Reagan Elementary School in New Berlin, a suburb of Milwaukee, on Feb. 6, 2014.
Gov. Scott Walker spoke to fifth-grade students at Ronald Reagan Elementary School in New Berlin, a suburb of Milwaukee, on Feb. 6, 2014.
Walker is expected to run for a third term in 2018.
Walker is expected to run for a third term in 2018.

Gov. Scott Walker frequently states that his 2017-’19 state budget funds K-12 education in Wisconsin at a historic level.

It’s an important claim not only for schools but for the 2018 election, as a passel of Democrats lines up to take on Walker -- assuming, as is widely expected, that he runs for a third term.

What we’ve found is sometimes the Republican governor is more specific, and more accurate, in making the claim.

And other times he’s not.

So, let’s sort it out.

Earlier fact check

Presenting his budget proposal in February 2017, Walker said: "We are investing more money into education than ever before in the history of Wisconsin."

Our rating was Mostly False.

Walker had proposed (and the budget he signed into law in September 2017 includes) a total of $11.5 billion over the two years for kindergarten through 12th grade education -- $5.6 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $5.9 billion in fiscal year 2019.

That raw number -- $11.5 billion -- is the largest tally in state history.

But that’s not the case when you take inflation into account. When adjusted for inflation, the funding for fiscal 2003 was $6.5 billion, higher than either year in the current budget.

More careful and less careful

In recent weeks, Walker on some occasions has made a qualified claim.

In a budget-signing ceremony, an op-ed column, a weekly radio address and on his campaign website, he said his budget includes more "actual dollars" for K-12 education than ever before.

That’s the raw-dollar figure, not taking into account inflation. And when stated that way, he’s on point.

But, on other occasions, Walker has made the unqualified claim that got him into the Mostly False territory on our Truth-O-Meter.

At the signing ceremony, in a video posted on Twitter and on Facebook, and elsewhere, he said his budget puts more money into schools "than ever before."

The takeaway

To sum up, Walker’s 2017-’19 state budget puts into K-12 schools more money -- in raw dollars -- than ever before.

But not when you take into account inflation.