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Legislative Advocacy

The School Board likes to take an active role in advocating for public education at the local, state and federal level.  Check back here for monthly updates about legislative topics and ways that you can get involved.

If you have an idea or suggestion regarding legislative matters, please contact Joe Luginbill, Legislative Liaison to the School Board, at 715-255-0819.

To view resolutions adopted by the ECASD School Board, click HERE.
 

August Legislative Update

1. State Budget Update

Typically, the state Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC), comprised of eight senators and eight representatives, begins its review of the governor’s budget in February and completes its work in late May or early June.  Then comes floor debate in the two houses and the completed budget is sent to the governor for his review and signature (or vetoes).  If all goes well, this process is completed by July 1. This year, however, the JFC not only hasn’t completed its review, it hasn’t met publicly since June 15, and it isn’t clear when the committee might meet again to wrap-up its work on the state’s two-year taxing and spending blueprint.
 
What’s holding things up this time around?
 
For starters, the Republican majorities in the state Senate and Assembly remain far apart in their preferred approaches to transportation funding and tax cuts. Another complication that has arisen in recent weeks is that Wisconsin has apparently emerged as a top potential site for a major manufacturing facility of Taiwanese-based electronics giant Foxxcon that could bring hundreds, if not thousands of tech jobs to Wisconsin. However, luring Foxxcon, known for assembling iPhones, flat-panel TV screens and other high-tech equipment, would likely require infrastructure improvements and could possibly require tax incentives. At present, we are unsure if Wisconsin’s 2017-19 budget bill will contain such incentives; however, lawmakers have indicated the sooner they can pass the budget bill, the sooner they can begin putting together a legislative package designed to attract the tech giant and the jobs it could bring. 
 
Some new budget agreements between the Assembly and Senate that we know about  are centered around the voucher program:

Increase the statewide voucher program income eligibility limit, this would allow about 600 more students than are currently in the program statewide.
Allowing a virtual private voucher school. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates this change would increase the cost of the statewide voucher program by $7.2 million in 2018-19.  
 

2. Advocacy Needed Regarding Health Care Reform

 
In anticipation of a repeal and/or replace of the Affordable Care Act that would phase-down Medicaid funding over a number of years, the National School Boards Association (NSBA, which ECASD is a member of, is asking for official letters of support for School-based Medicaid in an effort to oppose reductions of Medicaid services to students. 
 
Email to send concerns to: federaladvocacy@nsba.org.

Some talking points about what a repeal/replace could mean for Medicaid:
 
  • Fewer health services: Providing comprehensive physical and mental health services in schools improves accessibility for many children and youth, particularly in high needs and hard-to-serve areas, such as rural and urban communities. Reduced funding for Medicaid would result in decreased access to critical health care for many children.
 
  • Noncompliance with IDEA: Given the failure to commit federal resources to fully fund IDEA, Medicaid reimbursements serve as a critical resource to help schools provide the specialized instructional supports that students with disabilities need to be educated alongside their peers.
 
  • Fewer mental health supports: Seven out of ten students receiving mental health services receive these services at school. Cuts to Medicaid would further marginalize these critical services and leave students without access to care.
 
  • Cuts to general education: Many districts rely on Medicaid reimbursements to cover personnel costs for their special education programs. 
 
  • Cuts in Medicaid funding could lead to deficits that would require districts subject to tax (revenue) limits to divert funds from other educational programs to provide the services to students with disabilities that are mandated under IDEA.
 
  • Fewer critical supplies: Districts use Medicaid reimbursement for critical supplies such as wheelchairs, therapeutic bicycles, hydraulic changing tables, walkers, weighted vests, lifts, and student-specific items that are necessary for each child to access curriculum as closely as possible to their non-disabled peers.
 
  • Job losses: Districts use Medicaid reimbursement to support the salaries and benefits of the staff performing eligible services. Sixty-eight percent of districts use Medicaid funding to pay for direct salaries for health professionals who provide services for students.
 
The bottom line... The impact on public schools and the students we serve is a very important factor to mention when contacting your representatives.