Gov. Walker's state budget impacts the Chippewa Valley - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Gov. Walker's state budget impacts the Chippewa Valley


Chippewa Valley (WQOW) -- Governor Scott Walker introduced his 2017-2019 state budget Wednesday and said it includes historic investments in our priorities, like building a stronger infrastructure and putting more money into public schools than ever before. 

Walker wants to give each public school an additional $200 per student in the 2017-2018 school year, and plans to increase that amount to $204 for the 2018-2019 school year. News 18 spoke with Connie Biedron, the superintendent of the Altoona School District, who said the budget increase is a much welcomed boost.

She said the Governor's plan would mean more than $300,000 for the district. Biedron said she's excited about Walker's commitment to public education after having to fight for just $75 per student a couple of years ago. 

"Even just have a little bit of cushion can just make everyone breathe easier," Biedron said. "You're not going to have to lay off people, you can go ahead with programming that you have wanted to pursue and it all comes down to opportunities for our students." Superintendent Biedron said the extra money would help them bring in new teachers and fund classes recently added at the high school.

News 18 asked her if the Governor's new spending plan makes up for any budget cuts the district might have seen because of him over the years, but she said they're so glad to get this money they aren't thinking about the past, just focusing on the future. 

Under Walker's plan, the Eau Claire School District could see a $2.2 million increase in funding based on current enrollment. The Chippewa Falls School District could see just under $1 million added, and Elk Mound is hopeful for more than $240,000. 

It's not just public school officials celebrating a bigger budget; highway officials are looking forward to getting more money to spend on Wisconsin's roads. Governor Walker said his budget will put more into local assistance for bridges and roads at the county and municipal level than areas have seen in the last 15 to 20 years. 

Chippewa County Highway Commissioner Brian Kelley told News 18 Wednesday there are a number of projects in the area that would benefit from a budget increase, like general paving maintenance to bridge replacement.

"We're talking about a modest increase for the county," Kelley said, "so, it's definitely not going to solve our problems, but every little bit helps and we'll put it to good use." 

Commissioner Kelley said one project the department would like to get underway is replacing the Cobban Bridge in Jim Falls. Right now, he isn't sure how they're going to fund that project, so he said they'll take all of the help the can get from the state.

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