WCCF Brief Summarizes a Very Disappointing Budget for Kids & Families
A new WCCF budget summary finds “many missed opportunities to address the pressing needs of those hardest hit by the recession, and choices made by the Governor and Legislature that mainly benefit the wealthy few and harm Wisconsin’s most precious resource, our children and families.”
The WCCF brief provides a 3-page summary of portions of the revised budget that affect children and families. It provides some general comments, as well as detailed information about a wide variety of topics, including health care, K-12 education, early education, W-2, child welfare, juvenile justice and the hole in the next budget. I’ve distilled the most worrisome of those budget measures in a WCCF blog post titled the “Ten Worst Changes in the Budget for Children and Families.”
According to a WCCF press release issued Friday, the new brief “finds a budget that does more harm than good, and misses numerous opportunities to make the kinds of investments proven to promote job growth and improve the health and well-being of our children and families.” Of course, not all of the measures in the budget relating to kids and families are negative. A couple of the positive budget provisions include an increase in funding for child support and the new initiatives for mental health care.
There are some areas of the budget that we think are very problematic but which were at least improved by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), compared to the Governor’s proposal. Among those is the revised K-12 funding for general and categorical aid. Thanks to improved revenue projections, the JFC budget increases school aid by 1.5% (above the base level) in 2013-14 and an additional 2.8% in 2014-15. Nevertheless, those modest increases mean that schools will continue to lose ground to inflation.
In the press release Friday, WCCF Executive Director Ken Taylor commented on the budget: “The people of Wisconsin don’t need or want another austerity budget. That approach has not led to economic growth here in Wisconsin, which is not surprising since it hasn’t worked elsewhere either. Instead of doubling down on this flawed strategy, we should be taking advantage of this opportunity to invest in our people in ways that have better track records of success, such as health care, education, and early childhood.”
Floor debate on the budget is expected to begin in the Assembly on Tuesday and probably in the Senate on Thursday. If you’re hungry for more detailed descriptions of the budget bill and how it was changed by the Joint Finance Committee, the Fiscal Bureau has updated its Comparative Summary of the budget. It’s 744 pages but the web version divides it into more manageable chunks.
For shorter documents summarizing and analyzing various potions of our budget, watch over the next couple of days for several additions to the Budget Project’s “all things budget” webpage.