A Flawed Logic on Milwaukee School Finance

Mike Ford:

Milwaukee school board member Terrence Falk this week points out a looming budget disaster for the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS): underfunded legacy costs. It is an issue we have followed here at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. Unfortunately Falk sees fit to blame the Milwaukee school choice program for an issue rooted in collective bargaining agreements struck over fifteen years before the choice program began. Falk writes:

“Much of the problem directly relates to the impact of the choice or voucher program. The funding voucher flaw was partly fixed under the previous Democratic state administration, and it helped place our books more in balance. In addition, if all the students who left MPS for suburbs and private schools were still in MPS, the school system would have far fewer problems in supporting these retirees. But the new expansion of the voucher program and the state funding cuts make the long term viability of this school district perilous.”

Blaming the choice program makes little sense. What Falk calls the funding voucher flaw does not cost MPS revenue.