cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
Tomorrow the world of education in Wisconsin changes. The QEO will be a thing of the past and school boards will be tested when bargaining with their union members.
The average teacher compensation increase across the state was 4.2 % per year during the period of time that QEO was in place. That is not bad by my reckoning considering that the QEO limit was 3.8%. So, we are likely seeing the impact of previously arranged step increases plus the QEO increase.
In the 12 years since QEO was put into place, the average school property tax increase in Wisconsin has been 4.5% per year. That amounts to a combined increase of 55% over those 12 years.
During the 11 years leading up to the QEO, average annual property tax increases for schools was 6.3%. That amounts to a cumulative increase of 84% in 11 years. That is a significant difference.
On top of this, the state aid for schools has slipped from two-thirds to about 60%, so the school districts found themselves needing to cut classes, defer expenditures, cut programs or raise taxes.
With QEO gone, and with the perception of pent-up demand by teachers' union negotiators there will be significant change. On top of the removal of the QEO requirement, there has also been a significant change to the rules that govern arbitration, which is where these negotiation impasses will ultimately go. The arbitrators are no longer compelled to give the greatest weight in their analysis to the economic conditions of the community and to the revenue caps that restrict the districts from raising money. Arbitrators have had a tendency to favor the teachers over time.
School districts face a tough period given that they can basically only reduce the numbers of teachers, or reduce the programs or increase class size or a combination since they are still under the cap. Ultimately, the state will be forced to deal with that conundrum, and my bet is that the caps will either be raised or removed completely.
Given that compensation is fully 85% of the entire district budget, we can see that the tail is wagging the dog. There is simply no place for the districts to go that isn't unpalatable, that isn't going to drive parents nuts, and that will ultimately drive taxpayers nuts.
Remember how this came to pass during your next vote in state elections. Governor Doyle and the Democrats who control our Wisconsin world paid off WEAC for its support over lo these many years, and they paid this bill with our money and with our children's' educational future.
The Curmudgeon Blog today is titled "Cap & Tax Vs. The Heartland".