Push to give school vouchers to middle-income families hits wall

Molly Beck::

“The governor supports the K-12 education budget he introduced to the Legislature five months ago,” spokesman Tom Evenson said when asked if Walker would support the proposal. “It provides a $649 million increase in funding for our schools, bringing funding for K-12 to an all-time high. After visiting nearly 50 public schools this year, the governor has seen overwhelming support for his plan.”

Walker’s budget did not include the proposal to increase income eligibility for vouchers, and Evenson did not say whether Walker would sign a budget that included an increase.

Beyer said Vos thinks “it’s unfortunate that Senate Republicans refuse to give more families the opportunity to choose the best school for their children.” Jim Bender, a lobbyist for School Choice Wisconsin, said lawmakers’ haven’t had much energy to discuss anything other than transportation.

Joint Finance Committee co-chairman Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said the matter is still up in the air.

Raising the income limit to 300 percent of the federal poverty level would put the income limits for the statewide program on par with the older voucher systems in Milwaukee and Racine.

The statewide program has been questioned by Democrats in part because the majority of students using the vouchers were already enrolled in private schools.