Do you want more money for schools or lower property taxes?
Well, the state budget I recently signed does both. Our 2017-2019 budget includes more actual dollars for K-12 education than ever before ($11.5 billion), and it will help lower property taxes on a median valued home. Plus, we will freeze tuition again at all University of Wisconsin System campuses for the next two years.
From rural schools to the Milwaukee Public Schools, our budget does much to improve education in Wisconsin. On top of the overall increase, we invest heavily in improving mental health for students, in helping special needs children, and in access to technology and high-speed internet connections in the classroom and on the bus. There is an increase in funding for Fab Labs, youth apprenticeships and early college credit programs. Our goal is student success for all our children.
Despite the political attacks, we approved the same per-student increase requested by the Department of Public Instruction at the beginning of the budget process.
Higher education also gets a big boost in our budget. Technical colleges receive a sizable increase in funding. So does the University of Wisconsin System. Need-based financial aid is funded at the highest level ever. And tuition is frozen for the sixth year in a row so college students and working families can find it easier to afford school.
Property taxes will be lower in 2018 than they were in 2014 and even lower than they were before we started in 2010. Plus, we eliminate an entire tax in this budget. For the first time since 1931, no state tax will be on your property tax bill. Income taxes also will be lower in 2018. And we lower the personal property tax on small businesses.
Overall, we do quite a bit in this budget to lower the burden on hard-working taxpayers. In fact, the cumulative impact of our total tax relief in this and our past budgets is $8 billion.
Our transportation system gets a more than $6 billion boost in this budget. It includes the largest increase in aid to help local governments fix roads and bridges in 20 years. State highway rehabilitation programs get a significant increase, and vital major road projects stay on track.
We did this without a gas tax or a vehicle registration fee increase — all while limiting transportation bonding to the lowest level since before 9/11.
Employers need more workers, so this budget includes major new investments in workforce development. We help able-bodied adults transition from government dependence to true independence through the dignity of work. With more people in the labor force in Wisconsin than ever before, we need more who are able to work. Our budget helps meet that challenge.
Overall, the state budget I just signed into law will finish with yet another surplus. The state’s rainy-day fund is 168 times larger than it was when I started as your governor, and total bonding in this and the last budget combined is the lowest back-to-back level in at least 20 years.
We are paying off debt faster than we are authorizing new borrowing. In fact, our credit rating was just improved for the first time since 1973, and our long-term obligations are some of the lowest in the nation.
This a sound state budget that protects public safety and public health while protecting the taxpayers. It invests in the success of our students, in the digital connection of citizens, in maintaining our roads and bridges, and in building the workforce we need to fill the jobs of today and of tomorrow.
This budget is one more way we are working and winning for Wisconsin.
More people are in the labor force this year than ever before in our state, graduation rates in our schools are some of the best in the country, health care systems rank No. 1 in the nation for quality, and Chief Executive Magazine ranks our state in the Top 10 for business (compared to the bottom 10 in 2010).
We are moving Wisconsin forward.
The cumulative impact of our total tax relief in this and our past budgets is $8 billion.