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Wisconsin had nation's fourth-largest drop in school aid

A new report says most states are giving less aid to public schools than before the recession began.

The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities said each Wisconsin youngster started the fall term with $911 less in state aid than in the fall of 2007. That's the fourth-largest decrease in the nation, trailing only Alabama, California and Idaho.

Wisconsin is not among 26 states reducing their aid per student from a year ago. The Badger State had a slight increase of $3 per youngster.

The state covers just under two-thirds of all public school costs.

Todd Berry of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says local school districts can tax as much as they want, if they can get voters to go along with referendums for state revenue cap exemptions.

Gove. Scott Walker and Republican legislators reduced the revenue cap by 5.5 percent in the current state budget. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said it was necessary to help the state get rid of its budget deficit without raising taxes, cutting services, or having large public employee layoffs.

Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards called it a "one-year austerity program" that cannot be maintained. His group will push for higher revenue caps in the next state budget - along with more flexibility to cover rising technology and energy costs, and the effects of the state's newly-required teacher evaluations.