MADISON -- Governor Scott Walker said the budget he's set to unveil Wednesday, February 8th will include hundreds of millions more for public schools.
Walker's plans come two years after he proposed cuts to public school funding. Democrats have long memories, comparing Walker to a poorly equipped firefighter.
"I think a lot of people in the Capitol are surprised. They thought it would be nowhere near that," Walker said.
Governor Walker is promoting plans to send an extra half-billion to K-12 schools, but Milwaukee Democrats said he shouldn't be patting himself on the back.
"They started this fire, and they should not get credit for now throwing handfuls of water at the problem they created," Senator Chris Larson said.
Democrats point to 2011 and 2015 budgets where Walker proposed cuts. In 2015, the cuts were reversed by the Republican Legislature.
"This is a guy who`s decimated education, belittled teachers, and hurt our kids," Larson said.
Governor Walker's plan would increase per-pupil funding by $200 next school year, and $204 the year after that.
Private voucher schools would see the identical increase.
Walker's plan makes $5.6 million available to failing schools in Milwaukee. Forty-two failing public schools, plus vouchers and charters could get a piece of that money if they show improvements.
One top Republican in the Legislature doesn't know why Democrats are complaining.
"At a certain point in politics, you just can`t be no to everything, and the fact is that we have not cut K-12 education since February 2011," Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield said.
Kooyenga said he expects Republicans will support Walker's K-12 budget.
"I think most Wisconsinites would say that`s a lot of money," Kooyenga said.
Wisconsin's revenue picture is better than it was two years ago, when Walker proposed those K-12 cuts. What we don't know yet is how he'll pay for the education increase, and how he'll balance it with other priorities.
Governor Walker will unveil his full budget on Wednesday.