Walker World

This week, Wisconsin kicked off a series of hearings on Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget, which would slash about $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system over two years, funnel hundreds of millions to build a pro-basketball stadium, and cut deeply from funds for health care, food stamps and public media.

College campuses across the state are already preparing for the worst.

Funding at UW-Rock County would be stripped back to levels not seen since 1998, and the school’s dean has said faculty layoffs are almost certain. The situation appears even more dire at UW-Eau Claire, where administrators have offered buyouts to a record 325 faculty and staff members — about a quarter of the campus’ employees. These so-called “go away packages” have been offered to nearly half of the school’s political science department. UW-Stevens Point reports they will eliminate several entire majors, even for students currently enrolled in them.

And it’s not just higher education feeling the pain.

Public primary schools across Wisconsin will lose about $127 million in education aid next year, largely by scrapping a special $150 per-student fund that Wisconsin school districts received over the past two years.

The struggling Milwaukee public schools are set to lose more than $12 million.

Bob Peterson, who taught 5th grade in the Milwaukee Public Schools for nearly three decades, told ThinkProgress that not only are the cuts “breathtaking,” they come as the schools are still reeling from the lost funding in the Governor’s 2011 budget.

“Over the last several years we’ve seen more kids in each classroom, less individual attention for children, and cuts to music, art, and physical education programs,” he said. “There are also way fewer guidance counselors and social workers, and given the Depression-like economic conditions that are in the community here, that’s a real serious problem. They now don’t have time to give kids guidance around post-high school possibilities like technical schools, apprenticeships or college.”

The money saved from the education cuts is specifically slated for property tax relief, which largely benefits the wealthiest in the state.

Walker World

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