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Gov. touts education priorities in budget

During visit to Elk Mound, Walker says investment will bolster workforce

posted Feb. 17, 2017 12:00 a.m. | updated Feb. 17, 2017 8:25 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Lauren French

ELK MOUND — Gov. Scott Walker is making stops at schools around the state after proposing his two-year budget to the Legislature last week, which includes an $11.5 billion investment in K-12 schools and roughly $20 million in sparsity aid for rural schools.

“Part of what we’re hoping for,” Walker told a room of Elk Mound High School students and teachers on Thursday, “is we not only hope you get a good education, we want to help you want to stay and want to be here in the state of Wisconsin, whether it’s right here in your home community or somewhere nearby.”

Walker, who spent the morning touring the high school, told students that investing more in education will bolster the workforce. He also noted the importance of investing more in rural areas, which he said sometimes must deal with transportation costs, declining enrollment and slow internet access. 

Walker’s budget proposal includes $20 million in sparsity aid, $10.4 million in high-cost transportation aid, $92,000 in pupil transportation aid and $22.5 million in broadband infrastructure grants for rural areas, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Ron Walsh, superintendent of the Plum City school district, was present at the meeting on Thursday and said a rural funding boost would especially help his schools. Enrollment in Plum City schools falls at about 300, he said.

“That’s critical,” Walsh said of Walker’s proposed broadband funding. “We actually need to improve that right in our own school. In Plum City we’re actually spending our referendum money to expand our broadband capabilities within our buildings, but to have that reach out into the rural areas where our students live is really critical.”

Walker said he’s aware his proposed budget will undergo some changes before it’s approved but hopes the final product will prioritize education.

Contact: 715-830-5828,, @LaurenKFrench on Twitter