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Haley BeMiller
By Haley BeMiller January 26, 2021

Gov. Tony Evers on the money with claim about increase to general school aid

If Your Time is short

  • The 2019-2021 budget allocated an additional $329,942,000 — a 3.5% increase — for general school aid.

  • That’s the biggest increase in spending for that pot of money since the 2005-2007 budget.

Gov. Tony Evers struck a somber tone with his State of the State address on Jan. 12, 2021, as he remembered the lives lost to COVID-19 and reflected on the myriad challenges of 2020. 

But he also used part of his speech to touch on some of the state’s accomplishments before the pandemic killed thousands and forced many Wisconsin residents into unemployment. 

Among them: Boosting funding for public schools. 

"We put $330 million in general school aids — the largest in more than a decade," Evers said.

Is Evers on the money? Let’s dig in. 

School funding in Wisconsin

When asked for evidence to support the governor’s claim, spokeswoman Britt Cudaback cited breakdowns by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau that detail the changes to general school funding, or equalization aids, in each budget dating back to 2005-2007. (Reminder: Wisconsin operates on a two-year budget cycle.)

General aid is the primary pot of money for school districts, separate from categorical spending for specific needs such as transportation or meals. To assess changes over time, the Fiscal Bureau compares funding in the current budget to the second year of the previous budget — also known as the base year. 

According to an analysis of the 2019-2021 budget, that spending plan allocated an additional $329,942,000 — a 3.5% increase — for general school aid when compared to 2018-2019. So Evers had roughly the right number in his State of the State address. 

But was that the biggest hike in more than a decade? 

Here are the changes in school spending over the past 16 years as documented by the Fiscal Bureau:

  • 2019-2021: increase of $329,942,000 (3.5%)

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  • 2017-2019: increase of $72,750,000 (0.8%)

  • 2015-2017: increase of $108,137,500 (1.2%)

  • 2013-2015: increase of $170,239,100 (2%)

  • 2011-2013: decrease of $749,388,000 (8.1%)

  • 2009-2011: decrease of $294,003,800 (3.1%)

  • 2007-2009: increase of $76,756,000 (0.8%)

  • 2005-2007: increase of $701,600,000 (8.1%)

Evers is correct on that front, too. The 3.5% boost for 2019-2021 is easily the largest since the 2005-2007 budget, even when accounting for inflation.

Our ruling

In his State of the State address, Evers said "we put $330 million in general school aids — the largest in more than a decade."

The 2019-2021 budget increased general aid by 3.5% when compared to the previous year. That’s the biggest hike for that pot of money since the 2005-2007 budget. 

We rate this claim True.

 

 

 

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Gov. Tony Evers on the money with claim about increase to general school aid

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