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Joint Finance Takes Up Voucher Funding This Week

Justin Kern, flickr

State budget work will resume this week in Madison.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance committee continues combing through Gov. Walker’s two-year budget proposal.

On Wednesday, the panel will vote on several divisive items regarding education funding. One issue is money for the school choice or voucher program.

The voucher program began in Milwaukee in 1990. It allowed a certain number of children from low-income households to attend private, non-sectarian schools, by rechanneling funding from the public system.

State leaders have since expanded the program to more students and schools – including religious ones, and to Racine.

Now Gov. Walker wants to extend the program to nine more communities. He says families should have options and the education sector should be competitive.

State Superintendent Tony Evers opposes the expansion. He insists the program devastates public systems and leaves the private schools largely unaccountable.

The Joint Finance committee will also consider creating vouchers for students with special needs.

The budget committee must also decide how much money to give to public schools. The governor’s plan would pretty much freeze their overall revenue.

When the committee finishes its work, the budget package heads to the Assembly and Senate.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.