Voucher expansion

To the Editor:

I want to take issue with Senator Leibham's Capitol Connection report published in the June 18th Plymouth Review newspaper. The title of the report, "Education is central to state budgeting," needs clarification. The actual "education" Senator Leibham is really talking about entails vouchers and education tax credits . It is true that this budget does include some increases in public education funding but this comes after a $2 billion plus cut in the previous budget!

Senator Leibham said that the statewide expansion of vouchers is an effort to "provide opportunities for low-income students who are struggling at their current public schools." That is how the voucher program started in Milwaukee... but now it has no participation limits and has much higher income caps to remain eligible. Now the budget will also allow any existing private schools that accept vouchers in Milwaukee or Racine to open satellite schools around the state. Students enrolling in those schools would be considered Milwaukee or Racine students, and would not count against the 500 or 1,000-student cap in the statewide expansion language!

Voucher schools or tuition tax credit schools do not come under the same scrutiny and transparency as our public schools. In fact the budget puts limits on the release of public data about the perfor- mance of voucher schools.

Wisconsin cannot afford supporting two parallel educational systems. The expansion of vouchers and the $30 million dollar investment in tax credits for private school tuition will further the "uncertainty" of public education funding. A projected half billion dollar structural deficit may result from this budget which could mean future education cuts along with property tax increases.

My Rep. Kestell voted against the budget. I am disappointed that my fiscallyconservative Senator did not do the same!

John Binder
Plymouth, WI

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