State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
The Governor does not provide specific details about how he will pay for his plan.
He also claims that Wisconsin teachers are under-funded, saying in his speech, “Teachers in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, and Iowa all make more than Wisconsin teachers.” I am unsure where the Governor is getting his information to make that claim because he does not attribute a source.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) released a state-by-state ranking of teacher salaries in 2005, and teachers in Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan have a higher average salary than Wisconsin teachers, and Iowa teachers make less than Wisconsin teachers.
The Governor also said in his speech, “Starting teachers in 48 other states make more than Wisconsin teachers.” According to the AFT study, that is true. However, Wisconsin teachers quickly climb up the salary ladder. The average teacher salary in Wisconsin ranks number 26 among the states at $43,099.
A report by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute that examined school spending during the 2000-2001 school year notes that a significant area of K-12 spending was employee salaries and benefits. Wisconsin school districts paid benefits totaling 36.4 percent of salaries and wages, higher than the national average of 25.5 percent and regional average of 28 percent.
The report also revealed that the higher benefits could be compensating for lower pay. Average teacher pay and benefits during 1999-2000 in Wisconsin were 7.2 percent above the national average, however the average Wisconsin teacher salary was $41,153 or 1.4 percent below that national norm.
Overall average worker earnings in Wisconsin were 14.8 percent below the national average, revealing that teachers do considerably better than most Wisconsin workers.
Education is a priority for me and for the state legislature. I care very much about student learning, and I, and other Republicans, voted for significant education funding over the years. Historically, Wisconsin’s education generosity has been consistent and growing.
The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute report reveals statewide K-12 spending averaged $9,228 per student during the 2000-2001 school year. That amount is above the national average of $7,985 per student and above the regional average of $8,602 per student. Wisconsin’s teacher pupil ratio is higher than in other states. According to the report, Wisconsin school districts employ 11.6 percent more teachers than the national average, and 13.9 percent more than the surrounding states. Wisconsin had 1.73 teachers for every 25 students compared to the national average of 1.55 during 2000. Wisconsin had more than twice the national average of instructional coordinators, 43 percent more school librarians, 40 percent more support staff and three percent more principals and assistant principals.
Wisconsin has a long-standing tradition of being very generous to education because education is the key to personal success, and individual personal success is the key to our country's success. I look forward to hearing the Governor give specific details about how he intends to fix what he perceives to be a broken teacher compensation system.