TO THE HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY:
I am vetoing Assembly Bill 59 in its entirety.
This bill increases the income eligibility threshold for the Wisconsin Parental Choice
Program (WPCP) for the 2021-22 school year to 300 percent of the federal poverty level; allows pupils to submit full-time open enrollment applications to more than three nonresident school districts in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years; and prohibits a resident school board from denying an alternative open enrollment application in the 202021 and 2021-22 school years if the application is made on the basis of best interest of the pupil. I am vetoing this bill because I object to its proposed changes to the WPCP and open enrollment processes for multiple reasons.
First, I object to diverting resources from school districts to private schools. While the bill authors present this bill as a temporary increase in the income threshold, students who participate in any choice program are not required to meet the income requirement in subsequent years of participation. Therefore, a one-time change in the WPCP income threshold has the potential for long-term financial impacts. Additionally, participation in the WPCP increased by over 30 percent in the 2019-20 school year and 25 percent in the 2020-21 school with the 220 percent income threshold in place, indicating that the current income threshold does not prevent program growth.