A “sneak attack” on the issue of special needs vouchers. That’s how Stop Special Needs Vouchers spokeswoman Terri Hart-Ellis refers to late-night action by Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee, who inserted a program into the state budget.
Hart-Ellis contends parents of special needs kids may not be well served by vouchers. “They think they’re going to maybe get these services and this attention as far as special education is concerned. They get to the school and they find out that’s not the case,” said Hart-Ellis, whose 11 year-old daughter cannot speak and uses sign language and an iPad in her public school classroom.
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee unveiled the program on Tuesday, and voted to pass it at 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. State funding – in this case $12,000 per student – would go towards a voucher which parents could use to send their special needs student to a private school.
Similar measures have been previously rejected by the legislature, and the provision voted on Wednesday was not part of Governor Scott Walker’s proposed state spending plan.
“The process itself, sort of under cover of night with no public input, is really pretty outrageous,” said Hart-Ellis. “The opportunities that we did have in the past, we made ourselves so clear that legislation did not pass. So yeah, it’s kind of a sneak attack.”