Joint Finance Restores Walker's Cut to K-12, Approves Expanded School Voucher Program

May 20, 2015

Credit Althouse

The Legislature's budget committee on Wednesday morning undid Gov. Walker's cut to K-12 schools while approving an expansion of the state's voucher school program.  

The Joint Finance committee worked into the night and restored all of the $127 million cut the governor had proposed for the first year of the two-year budget.

In addition, the panel approved a measure that would allow $100 per student in funding for the second year of the budget.

The committee voted along party lines to cap the statewide voucher school program at no more than one percent of a district's population.  The change is expected to cost public schools about $48 million over two years.  Gov. Walker had proposed abolishing the 1,000 student enrollment cap.

The committee also voted to create a separate voucher program for special needs students.  It also would operate similar to the open enrollment program.

In addition, the panel approved a plan that would place the worst-performing Milwaukee Public Schools under control of a commissioner chosen by the Milwaukee county executive.  Those schools could then be converted into voucher or independent charter schools.

Democrats on the committee were opposed to all aspects of the plan, and spent the night introducing amendments in an effort to dump or modify parts, but were unsuccessful.