In what amounts to a huge admission of near-catastrophic failure, Gov. Scott Walker proposes bailing out the state's severely underfunded public schools, many of them teetering on insolvency since he enacted Act 10 more than five years ago.
Act 10 of course is Walker's signature "achievement," a budget law taking away school district's ability to negotiate with local stakeholders, taxpayers and teachers intertwined with Laffer Curve cap-and-cut economics. After six years, Walker's economic growth policies have failed to generate enough tax assessment value for local taxpayers to provide their Act 10 budget-capped schools with a meager $100-per-student annual increase. So the state must provide.
$509 million for broad public school aid that districts could spend on teaching: a $200 per pupil increase for the 2017-'18 school year and an additional $204 increase in the 2018-'19 school year. This increase wouldn't go through the state's general aid formula, flowing instead through a special aid category with its own formula and the possibility that it could benefit suburban schools more than urban ones.
It's a special category with its own formula alright. This is Walker's version of the 2008 congressional bill known as TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Fund), the federal program that bailed out Wall Street mortgage banksters, but with a twist.
Walker's troubled Act 10 relief program will most likely be politically formulated to school districts not necessarily the wealthiest or the poorest, but to those that could provide the right optics and help slow or reverse his steadily declining popularity. The one-time two-year budget boost in school aid makes it a temporary "bail-out" in the classic definition. That the bail-out coincides with his re-election campaign adds to the specialness of the formula.
In other words, it's working!