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Assembly Tucks Far Reaching Choice Plan in Budget

By John Forester(Don't Use) | June 16, 2011

Sometime between bar time and breakfast early this morning, the Republican-controlled Assembly tucked into the state budget a provision that could expand the state’s private school voucher program to school districts located in 16 second class cities in Wisconsin.  Under the proposal, Racine would become eligible for the school choice program right away.  It is unclear when or how many other school districts would be eventually folded into the program.

It appears as though the press and the public were deliberately misled by the Republican majority.  Assembly Republican leaders had announced that they were removing the Joint Finance Committee’s plan to extend school choice to Green Bay, only to replace it with a more far reaching proposal.  The SAA believes that this type of public policy deserves public scrutiny and public hearings.  The SAA is also concerned that the Governor could use his extensive partial veto power to reshape the Assembly plan into a statewide private school voucher program.

Pupils in a school district would be eligible to participate in a private school voucher program if the district meets certain criteria regarding equalized value, shared cost and the percentage of the districts’ enrollment eligible for free or reduced–price lunch.

The 16 second class cities are:  Appleton, Brookfield, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Janesville, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Oshkosh, Racine, Sheboygan, Superior, Waukesha, Wauwatosa, West Allis.

The details of this plan can be found in the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s summary of the Republican amendment to the state budget.  The summary of the school choice provision can be found on pages 26 and 27 of the LFB summary.

Note:  Right before this posting the SAA found out that Republican Senators were not on board with the proposed Assembly changes to the private school voucher program.  More information to follow.

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