State Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, is putting up a solid fight for $700,000 in state funds for the Racine Unified School District. But his efforts are likely to fail before Republicans in the Assembly.
Lehman's bill amounts to a wonkish, but important, distinction between levy credits and general state aids. A portion of the recently passed state budget will distribute $79.3 million in state money to school districts. The money was originally supposed to be distributed as general state aid. But the 4-month delayed state budget resulted in the money be given out as a school levy tax credit.
Here's where the change gets interesting: shifting the money to the school levy credit cost 299 school districts across the state an estimated $12 million in state aid. Where did that money go? It was funneled from 70 percent of the school systems in the state to a select 30 percent. How and why the money was moved is best left to policy wonks to explain. But the bottom line for Racine is Unified loses $700,000 in the change - money that will either require cuts or higher taxes.
Lehman's proposal, which passed the Senate on a bi-partisan 25-7 vote, would revert the funding back to the general state aids. It's unlikely, however, to pass the Assembly where leaders said they would not consider the legislation.
It's unclear why the Assembly won't take up the bill, particularly because its leaders have schools in their districts that will lose under the plan. Chalk it up to another example of bureaucracy getting in the way of common sense.