Legislative committee passes pro-school choice measures

    Two bills aiding the school choice program in Milwaukee passed the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee in party-line votes this morning and will now go to the full Legislature. An Assembly vote is set for Tuesday.
    The first, AB 92, deletes the pupil participation limit in the Milwaukee parental choice program and expands the eligibility of schools to take part in the program to the whole of Milwaukee County. The second, AB 94, modifies payment processes and audit requirements for the program.
    Democrats said expanding the choice program will result in a massive property tax increase for Milwaukee residents. LFB estimates that an additional 500 enrollees in the choice program would cause a $900,000 to $1.2 million increase in the Milwaukee Public School system levy.
    Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, said the expansion plan lacks accountability and is especially harmful to Milwaukee Public Schools at a time the district is facing a $75 million cut in state aids in the 2011-13 budget proposal. Taylor said the expansion is being imposed on her constituents despite their pleas to bring greater accountability and to make changes to the funding formula for the program.
    "What this majority is consistently showing is there is no desire for the people to be heard," she said.
    Assembly Co-chair Robin Vos responded to the Dem criticism of the expansion of the program. He said the program allows parents – "not the government" – decide what schools are best for their children.
    "Why would we want to do anything to take away the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their children?" Vos, R-Rochester, asked.
    Vos said the expansion of the program benefits other school districts. And he dismissed concerns about property tax increases in Milwaukee.
    "I will pay slightly more for better education for our kids," said Vos, who owns a business in the city.
    – WisPolitics.com

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