November 28, 2014

Evers urges rejection of Walker’s education budget (AUDIO)

Wisconsin’s head of public education is urging lawmakers to make dramatic changes to Governor Walker’s state budget proposal. State Superintendent Tony Evers told members of the Joint Finance Committee Thursday that the budget “creates too many winners and losers” and would “pit public school kids against voucher and independent charter school kids.”

Walker’s proposed state budget would freeze revenue limits for public schools, while increasing funding for private voucher schools. It would also expand the voucher program to special needs students.

Majority Republicans control the Legislature’s budget committee, and many have signaled support for the plans offered by the governor. State Representative Dan LeMahieu (R-Cascade) says people who are concerned about the kids who are failing doubt doing the “same-old same old for another decade is going to make it.”

JFC co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) argued a different approach is needed to improve education outcomes in the state, and voucher schools could offer an effective alternative in troubled school districts. Evers countered that the choice program in Milwaukee has not been effective though, and Walker’s plan will just shift resources away from already struggling public schools.

AUDIO: Evers and Nygren on voucher school effectiveness (1:18)

Democrat Cory Mason (D-Racine) says the voucher proposal ignores the struggles facing districts that would fall under the expansion, calling it a “red herring” designed to distract attention away from the defunding of public schools.

Walker’s education proposals are expected to be a key sticking point in the state budget debate, with some Senate Republicans already indicating they want changes to the voucher expansion and funding plans.