Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
As we noted in previous fact checks, then-Gov. Scott Walker did cut close to that ($784 million), in raw dollars in a single two-year budget.
But the claim ignores changes made through Walker’s Act 10 that saved districts money.
And there is no mention that subsequent education funding increases made up most of the cut.
There is an adage that if you repeat a statement enough times, it eventually will be accepted as true.
But that’s not how we work around here.
At PolitiFact Wisconsin, if you keep recycling the same claim, it’s not going to lead to a better rating. Instead, it’ll lead back to where we started.
Consider a claim posted Sept. 13, 2021 on Instagram by the state Democratic Party of Wisconsin, in which they target Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch, who was lieutenant governor under Gov. Scott Walker before the pair were ousted in 2018:
"The Walker-Kleefisch administration slashed $800 million from public schools."
We clicked our way back through our files, and found this claim from a September 2018 campaign ad from now-Gov. Tony Evers, that Walker "cut $800 million from our schools."
In the ad, Evers claims Walker cut $800 million from schools. He did cut close to that ($784 million), in raw dollars in a single two-year budget.
But that ignores changes made through Walker’s Act 10 that saved districts money. And the ad does not make clear that it’s referring only to cuts from 2011-’13, so viewers wouldn’t know that subsequent funding increases have made up most of that reduction.
We rated it Mostly False.
Going a little further back, there was also this claim, from April 2018 -- that despite a recent increase in school funding, Walker "has taken over a billion dollars from the public schools."
In Walker’s first year as governor (2011), he cut school aid by $426.5 million from the previous year, which was Jim Doyle’s final year as governor. Because it took five years to get school funding back to that base level, it could be argued that Walker "took" a total of $1.17 billion from schools over that period.
But since then, Walker had increased school funding to the point that the deficit, in comparison to the base year, was $183.6 million.
We also rated that claim Mostly False.
So, what’s new this time? Not much.
When asked to back up their claim, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin emailed a list of media reports that describe the same cuts and budget moves we mentioned above.
For instance, they sent a June 27, 2011, article from WISN 12 News titled "Walker's Budget Cuts $800 Million From Public Education."
But the very same article included comments from Walker that noted, as we did in our factcheck, there is another side to the equation -- money that districts could gain through Act 10.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin claimed that "The Walker-Kleefisch administration slashed $800 million from public schools."
We have rated that claim before, when various Democrats tried to pin it solely on Walker. The same numbers and logic apply now: The Walker-Kleefisch administration did cut close to that amount ($784 million), in raw dollars in a single two-year budget.
But that ignores changes made through Walker’s Act 10 that saved districts money. And the fact that large chunks of the funding were restored over time.
We rated the claim Mostly False then. We rate it the same way now.
Instagram, Democratic Party of Wisconsin "10 reasons Rebecca Kleefisch is radically wrong for Wisconsin," Sept. 13, 2021.
PolitiFact Wisconsin, "Did Scott Walker take $1 billion from Wisconsin schools, as governor candidate Tony Evers claims?" April 20, 2018.
PolitiFact Wisconsin, "Democrat Tony Evers misfires on education spending claim against Republican Scott Walker," Nov. 18, 2018.
PolitiFact Wisconsin "Recall candidate Kathleen Falk says Governor Scott Walker enacted "the biggest cuts to education in our state's history" Feb. 19, 2012
Associated Press "Wis. Gov. signs budget cutting education $1.85B," June 26, 2011
WISN 12 News Walker's Budget Cuts $800 Million From Public Education (wisn.com), June 27, 2011.
Wisconsin Budget Project "A Decade After Historic Cuts, Wisconsin Still Hasn’t Fully Restored State Aid for Public School Districts," Jan. 27, 2020.
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.