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Letters: ‘Bring back balance and accountability’ to Wisconsin

in Opinion

Dear editor:

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 286 public school referendums have been passed (out of 421 districts that went to referendum) since Jan. 1, 2010. This means people in these districts have voted to raise their property taxes because of the cuts to education under the Walker Administration. (I spoke to Tom McCarthy at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on Sept. 24, 2018.)

On April 3, 2018, voters in the D.C. Everest School District overwhelmingly passed a referendum to update the buildings along with other necessary improvements throughout the district. Property taxes will be raised by $24 for every $100,000 of the home’s value.

Sixty-one school districts have a total of 82 referendums on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot. Community members will vote to decide to raise their property taxes to fund their public schools.

Wisconsin has 464 public school districts with approximately 870,000 students.

Wisconsin public schools have to account for every penny spent.

Wisconsin taxpayers are forced to support more than 250 unaccountable private/religious taxpayer-funded schools with an enrollment of 33,750 students. Private school students are given more money per student than students in public schools. Parents of each of these students get a tax write-off up to $10,000 per student.

Private/religious schools are not accountable to the taxpayers who pay the bills. Since the 2013-2014 through the 2017-2018 school years, Wisconsin taxpayers have supported unaccountable private/religious schools to the tune of $51,309,130. Taxpayers have no idea how the money is being spent. This is just wrong!

Why are the majority of Wisconsin schools being forced to go to referendums to fund our public schools? Here is information from the Wisconsin Budget Project:

  • Wisconsin’s public K-12 school districts still receive less in state aid than they did before the historic $800 million cut to education in 2011.
  • In 2019, Wisconsin will invest less in public schools than it did in 2011. In 2019, school districts will receive $153 million less in state aid than in 2011 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
  • Over time, the budget cuts to public schools have accumulated. Between 2012 and 2019, the state provided $3.5 billion less in state aid than it would have had the state kept the 2011 levels.
  • In 2011, the state devoted $3.81 out of every $10 in tax revenue to school districts. In 2019, the state will spend $3.21—a decline of 16 percent since 2011.
  • Since 2011, Republican lawmakers have passed billions in new tax cuts, reducing the revenue available for public school districts. Overwhelmingly, these tax cuts have gone to the wealthy.

The people of Wisconsin have always supported our students in public schools. On Nov. 6, voters have an opportunity to bring back balance and accountability to our beloved state. Vote for the Democratic candidates who will be accountable to us, the taxpayers.

Joyce Luedke, Rothschild

Editor’s note: The views of our readers are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to P.O. Box 532, Wausau, Wis., 54402-0532.

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