changes could be coming in Wisconsin with the new state budget. Early
Wednesday morning the Joint Finance Committee passed the state budget
in a partisan 12-4 vote. The budget includes a $650 million income
tax cut, rejecting of federal medicaid expansion and expand the
school voucher program statewide.
"It gives parents a choice," said republican State Senator
Jerry Petrowski said.
The voucher program allows public school students to attend
private schools using taxpayer dollars, but enrollment would be
capped for those living outside Milwaukee and Racine. Under the
program, 500 students could attend voucher schools the first year and 1,000 every year after that.
"Really the proposal is
just 500 students over 435 districts in Wisconsin. This is only going
to be one student per district if you look at the numbers. So, I don'
think it's going to have a whole lot of effect," said Petrowski.
Still, this vote came with heavy criticism.
beginning of the disassembling of the public school system,"
said democratic State Representative Mandy Wright.
The amount of the voucher would increase to $7,210 for students
kindergarten through eighth grade. For those students in
high school, it would cover 78,856.
"It's a huge misuse of
taxpayer dollars, because after all the whole voucher system is
unproven. We've seen it in Milwaukee for thirty years and we have
seen no increase in student achievement, in fact it's flat or
declined," said Wright.
This proposal is different
than Governor Scott Walker's original pitch. His plan included
expanding vouchers to just nine cities, not the entire state.
Senate and Assembly leaders said they don't anticipate making any
changes to the plan as it makes it way to the assembly and if passed,
Governor Walker's desk.