CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR SPEAK FOR EDUCATION
WSAA (Wisconsin State Administrators Alliance) has asked both candidates Tony Evers and Scott Walker to answer these questions for education in Wisconsin.
Scott Walker has not responded.
Tony Evers has given the following answers:
You can read the entire interview at this link:
1. What is your motivation to be Wisconsin’s governor?
I’m running for governor because I believe what is best for our kids is best for our state. I love Wisconsin, and I’ve had the privilege of living and working in communities all around the state. Yet, I’ve had more than a few moments over the last eight years where I’ve struggled to recognize the Wisconsin I love.
We’ve watched citizens in over half our school districts vote to raise their own taxes because the state has failed to meet its commitment to funding our public schools. We’ve seen historic disinvestment in our public universities. We’ve seen our Governor turn down resources that would provide health care to thousands of Wisconsin families who don’t have it, and play games with coverage for pre-existing conditions.
We’ve seen foreign corporations get billions in taxpayer-funded handouts and special breaks from environmental protections, while our roads deteriorate, our drinking water and air get polluted, and our once nationally renowned education system falls behind.
Enough is enough. As Governor, I know there is so much more I can do to help build a stronger and brighter future for Wisconsin. I’ll use all of my skills and experience to end the divisiveness that has consumed our state and to reinvest in Wisconsin’s future – to improve education, healthcare, infrastructure, our environment and our economy.
I’ll focus on solving problems, not picking political fights. Wisconsinites know that we are stronger when we look out for each other, and when we look out for the next generation. Our kids deserve the best from us…….
10. Geographically large, sparsely populated rural school districts are hit especially hard by the state’s inadequate support for school transportation costs. Even with the increases to the high cost transportation aid program in the 2017-19 State Budget, state reimbursement to local school districts is still only about 10.4% of actual school transportation costs. As governor, how would you address this problem?
As Governor, I’d continue to invest in both pupil transportation aid and the high cost transportation aid program, while providing substantial new revenues to our schools for general use. My 2019-21 biennial budget proposal would increase the reimbursement rate for students who are transported 12 or more miles, and would fully fund high cost transportation aid, measures which are specifically targeted to providing additional aid to geographically large, sparsely populated districts.
Moreover, as Governor, one of my first priorities will be to solve our state’s transportation crisis. Wisconsin’s road quality is now among the worst in the country. Towns and villages are returning to gravel, and municipalities are passing new vehicle fees and taxes to fund road maintenance that should be covered by the state.
A 2018 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers found that 27 percent of Wisconsin’s public roads are in poor condition, resulting in average costs per Wisconsin driver of $637 per year. Deteriorating roads impact school buses, increasing the cost of maintenance and increasing the burden on our schools’ bottom line. As Governor, I’ll work with Democrats and Republicans alike to find a long-term solution to our state’s ongoing transportation standoff.
11. Small, rural schools continue to face many challenges that limit educational opportunities for the children they serve. These include: declining enrollment, a lack of economies of scale, difficulties in recruiting/retaining qualified staff contributing to reduced programming options, and distance from post-secondary education institutions. As governor, what policies/initiatives would you advance to reduce the disparities in educational opportunities for children in rural Wisconsin?
When I’m out talking to young people and ask why they choose to stay here, they almost always point to our natural resources and our quality of life – things rural Wisconsin has in spades.
While we need to invest in new opportunities, we must also maintain the high quality of life Wisconsin is known for, which keeps people here and draws businesses to the state. This includes a strong public education system from early childhood through higher education that produces an educated workforce, high quality roads and infrastructure, clean air and water as well as abundant recreational opportunities.
As I noted earlier, I’m committed to fully funding our public schools, and I can do it on day one with my Fair Funding plan. It’s been endorsed by educators and school boards across Wisconsin and it ensures that every kid who needs an extra lift, gets an extra lift. It also changes how we distribute our education dollars so that every district is guaranteed a minimum amount of aid per student and income, not just property value, is taken into account.
These changes will greatly benefit rural school districts in Wisconsin. Even the current hostile Legislature has adopted some of my recommendations, like expanding sparsity aid for rural districts and upping the reimbursement for transportation – things that I’d continue to build on in my 2019-21 budget.
I previously mentioned my commitment to improving our roads, but strong infrastructure also means strong internet. Reliable high speed internet is the interstate of the 21st century, and should be available in every single home and business in Wisconsin.
Yet, a recent study shows Wisconsin ranks nearly dead last in average download speeds. As Governor, I’d add statewide broadband to our infrastructure plans, an investment that would bring new industries to Wisconsin, reduce costs for businesses already here and create new job opportunities for people of all ages. Reliable and high speed internet would also give rural residents new opportunities to access digital coursework to grow their knowledge and skills, including more options for rural students to access challenging courses that local economies of scale might not support on their own.
I’ve lived and worked in rural communities across central Wisconsin, and, as Governor, I’m committed to helping our rural schools and our rural communities thrive.
You can read the entire interview at this link: