Increases in state aid to local schools, changes in collective bargaining rules, and tougher high school graduation requirements were among the proposals Gov. James E. Doyle outlined last week in his third State of the State Address.
The first-term Democrat took aim in his Jan. 12 speech at proposals backed by some in the Republican-led legislature, including a proposed freeze on property taxes and a “taxpayers’ bill of rights” modeled on a provision in Colorado’s state constitution.
As an alternative, he sketched a plan to boost aid to municipalities, expand property-tax-relief programs, and “significantly increase aid to education” by an unspecified amount. Details on those ideas are expected to come in the two-year budget the governor is set to propose early next month.
“What we don’t need is bumper-sticker politics, or more mandates from Madison,” he said. “And we certainly shouldn’t trade Wisconsin’s education system—where students score the best in the nation on the ACT—with Colorado’s, where students score near the bottom.”
The governor said the state should pass a law requiring that students take three years each of math and science to graduate instead of the current two years. He also called for more money for school breakfast programs, more kindergarten classes for 4-year-olds, and Wisconsin’s program to reduce class sizes in the early grades. He also proposed a five-tier system for rating child-care centers, “with higher levels of state reimbursements for providers with the highest ratings for quality.”
Gov. Doyle reiterated his support for scrapping an element of the state’s collective-bargaining framework that he said has contributed to rises in school districts’ costs for employee health benefits.
Republicans favor other ideas for containing those costs.
A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2005 edition of Education Week