Evers pushes for education funding at Janesville campaign stop

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers continued to push for his $2 billion education funding package during a campaign stop in Janesville Wednesday.

“It’s a large ask, it’s $2 billion, but we’ve — before my time as governor — cut funding and our schools need it,” Evers said at a media availability at Van Buren Elementary School in Janesville.

The plan released Tuesday includes a wide range of K-12 education spending as well as addressing staffing shortages and allocating more for mental health resources.

“I think we are recognizing that some of the learning that doesn’t happen well is based upon mental health and behavioral issues,” Evers said.

Educators, like Van Buren principal Stephanie Edwards, see the effects of that daily.

“We’re not the experts on exactly how to handle a lot of those situations that you oftentimes have to deal with on the spot,” she said.

Evers’ plan would allocate funding for every school district in the state to have at least one staff member dedicated to mental health services. Edwards said she would welcome that, adding that there is a demonstrated need in many schools.

Evers faces significant barriers, however, to get his plan implemented. Not only would he have to win reelection, but he would need the sign-off of the Republican-controlled Legislature for it.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called the plan a “ploy” in a statement, adding that “the impact and damage done to children’s education by shutting down schools for two years is not something their parents will easily forget.”

The governor reiterated that the schools need the funding.

“They shouldn’t have to go to referendum every two or three years and beg local people to raise taxes on themselves, there’s a state responsibility here,” he said.

Evers will face Tim Michels in the fall, who panned the plan as “more money, more bureaucracy.” Michels’s K-12 education plan includes expanding school choice and trade education.