- Wisconsin's new state budget includes $11.5 billion for education over the next two years.
On Friday, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) visited schools across the state to discuss some details of the education budget.
Dozens of students at Mosinee Middle School heard from the governor himself about how the new education budget will affect them.
Governor Walker also toured Mosinee's fab lab and chrome shop to see firsthand where some of that funding will be spent.
Walker says the budget doubles the amount of spending for fab labs, and increases funding so that all students in the state can have a school-supplied electronic device.
More than $35 million will go specifically towards broadband expansion, which Walker's office says will benefit rural and underserved schools.
Walker vetoed a portion of the education budget proposal that would have brought in more revenue to so called "low-spending districts." North Central Wisconsin contains many such districts.
"The concern with the language they put in is it would allow districts to go above and beyond even the historic increases we put in and allow to raise property taxes," said Walker.
Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) was one of the authors behind the idea of raising revenue in low-spending districts.
That effort was meant to improve the state's school-funding formula, and to make it more fair.
"We're all a little disappointed the governor went that direction. I certainly understand his point of view as well. I mean anytime you want to increase taxes it's always okay to take it to the tax payers," said Swearingen.
Swearingen says for now districts would have to go through a referendum and get tax-payer approval to raise spending limits.
He believes the idea will come up again in the future… but for now he thinks that the new budget's investment into education will still make a positive impact for Northwoods schools. Particularly the $636 million in state aid for education.
"That's money going into the classroom, not money going into the school funding formula. So this gets hit right into, for instance, the Rhinelander School District so that'll make a positive impact," said Swearingen.
Walker believes that this investment in education will pay not only for the students, but for Wisconsin's workforce as well.
"Biggest challenge I hear, particularly from small business owners here and across the state is that we need more employees, we need more people with the skill sets needed to fill the jobs we have open. The fundamental building block of that is K through 12 education," said Walker.
The new budget will also affect some of the state's college students. Tuition rates for University of Wisconsin System in-state undergraduates will be frozen for the next two years.