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Press Release
November 3, 2016

Why Would an Arkansas Billionaire Write Dan Feyen a $1,000 Check?

Hint: Because Feyen Supports Giving Our Tax Dollars to Less Accountable Private Voucher Schools

MADISON, Wis. — Why would Arkansas billionaire Jim Walton, an heir to the Walmart fortune, write a check for $1,000 to a candidate for state Senate from Fond du Lac Wisconsin? One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said Feyen’s support for Walton’s pet project, expanding less accountable private school vouchers that take money from public schools, could explain it.

“This Arkansas billionaire couldn’t pick Dan Feyen out of a lineup, yet he writes him a $1,000 check,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “While Walton has almost certainly never met Dan Feyen, it seems he’s acquainted with his willingness to sell out public schools to help less accountable private voucher schools.”

According to campaign finance records filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Jim Walton of Bentonville, Arkansas donated $1,000 to the campaign of Dan Feyen on October 21. This is the only contribution from Walton to a member of the state legislature or a state legislative candidate in 2016.

Walton has funnelled $285,000 to the American Federation for Children’s Wisconsin (AFC) operation that has reported spending over $1 million in this election cycle to try to elect legislators who will support taxpayer funding for the private school voucher program. AFC has reported spending over $62,000 to date attacking Feyen’s election opponent.

The Walmart heir has also doled out $24,000 each to the legislative campaign committees run by the Senate and Assembly Republican leaders who have expanded the private school voucher program statewide in recent years. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the private school voucher program, with lower accountability standards than public schools, will snag $800 million in state tax dollars over the decade. In addition to sending massive sums of public tax dollars to private schools, the Republican-controlled legislature also 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.

Ross noted that the private school voucher cartel appears poised to demand more taxpayer subsidies in the 2017 legislative session. According to news reports, the next objective in their crosshairs is creating taxpayer funded accounts that could be used to pay for tuition at private schools and other related expenses.

For his part, Dan Feyen has said he doesn’t think the state needs to increase public education funding, despite reports of kids and taxpayers paying the price for the destructive education policies, including record funding cuts, enacted by his fellow Republicans in the legislature. Feyen has also declared his support for the voucher program, which siphons taxpayer dollars away from public schools.

Ross concluded, “There’s a simple answer for why Dan Feyen is the only state legislature candidate in the state to get a check from a pro-voucher school Arkansas billionaire. He’s willing to sell out our kids and our public schools.”

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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