State Budget Recap: K-12 and Higher Education (May 27)

On Thursday, May 27, the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) held an executive session to consider various motions related to the 2021-23 state budget. Click here to visit our main budget recap article for more information on the overall budget process as well as each executive session held by JFC in 2021.

Below is a list of motions that JFC considered on May 27, including whether each motion was adopted and how the committee voted. The committee includes 12 Republican members and 4 Democrats; all 11-4 and 4-11 vote tallies were along party lines. One Republican member of JFC was absent on May 27.


  • Motion 58: University of Wisconsin System, Technical College System, and Higher Educational Aids Board (11-4)
  • Motion 59: Department of Public Instruction (11-4)

Not adopted

  • Motion 51: Department of Public Instruction (4-11)
  • Motion 55: University of Wisconsin System, Technical College System, and Higher Educational Aids Board (4-11)

Below are highlights from the motions approved by JFC:

Department of Public Instruction (K-12 education)

  • Provide a $128 million increase in state funding for public schools, compared to the $1.6 billion increase proposed by the governor. Wisconsin schools are also expected to receive about $2.6 billion in federal funds under COVID-19 relief legislation. However, that funding includes a maintenance-of-effort requirement for state education spending, and the increase provided under Motion 59 may fall short of that requirement by several hundred million dollars.
  • For special education, reimburse 30% of school special education costs in the second year of the budget, up from 28.2% under current law. The governor proposed increasing the reimbursement rate to 45% in the first year of the budget and 50% in the second.

University of Wisconsin System

  • End the freeze on tuition increases that has been in place for eight years. UW System schools could increase tuition beginning fall of 2021.
  • Increase funding for system schools by $8.25 million, compared to $192 million proposed by the governor.