MADISON, Wis. — As a private school advocacy group drops big money to try to elect compliant state legislators a media report details a new scheme to divert public education funding and state tax dollars to unaccountable private voucher schools. The most recent filings with the state Elections Commission indicate the American Federation for Children, headed by disgraced former Assembly Republican Speaker Scott Jensen, has spent in excess of $515,000 from the beginning of September through October 3 to benefit the campaigns of state legislative Republicans.
“The private school voucher cartel has an unslakable thirst for tax dollars to support their unaccountable industry,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Their front group the American Federation for Children has spent millions of dollars to elect state legislators willing to take money from us and our public schools and give it to them, and the Republican-controlled legislature has been all too willing to oblige.”
According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the unaccountable private school voucher program will snag $800 million in state tax dollars over the decade. In addition to sending massive sums of public tax dollars to unaccountable private schools, the Republican-controlled legislature has enacted a special tax break that allows millionaires and others sending their kids to private schools and academies to get a deduction for tuition at an estimated annual cost of $30 million.
The latest voucher scheme with an undisclosed price tag would reportedly involve sending public tax dollars to private accounts that could be used to pay for the private school tuition for students.
Prior to the 2016 election cycle, since 2010, the American Federation for Children has spent at least $4.5 million in Wisconsin campaigns. In addition to their direct electoral work, One Wisconsin Now has issued a report on how the Milwaukee based Bradley Foundation, until recently under the control of Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign co-chair, has funded a $100 million plus pro-voucher propaganda campaign.
Ross concluded, “The cabal that supports the unaccountable private school voucher program doesn’t spend millions of dollars on campaigns and pro-voucher propaganda to provide cover for politicians out of the kindness of their heart. Their support comes with a price, and time and again the Republican beneficiaries of their largesse are willing to sell out our public schools to pay it.”