GOP Stalls Voucher Loophole Fix, Proposed Accountability Standards as Their Campaign Coffers Fill With Cash

MADISON, Wis. — Campaign finance records show private school voucher advocates have showered Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP with over $507,000 in campaign contributions in 2011 and 2012. Meanwhile proposed accountability standards that would include voucher schools are on hold and a bill to close a loophole that could allow statewide expansion of the private voucher program is stalled in the GOP controlled Assembly.

One Wisconsin Now Deputy Director Mike Browne commented, “Wealthy, out-of-state ideologues who want to take tax dollars from public schools and use them for private school vouchers have contributed big dollars to Republicans. They sure seem to be getting their money’s worth as GOP legislators and Gov. Walker dump more money into vouchers and stall proposed accountability standards.”

An analysis of campaign contributions conducted by One Wisconsin Now reveals known voucher backers from across the country gave over $507,000 in campaign contributions to Gov. Walker and the GOP in 2011 and 2012. Walker himself netted $376,000, including a $100,000 contribution on January 12th.

Browne acknowledged this could only be the tip of the iceberg because voucher supporters also fund groups with a history of promoting GOP legislators but don’t file campaign finance reports.

After increasing spending on private school vouchers in the 2011-13 state budget, it was reported that GOP Senator Mike Ellis and Representative Robin Vos, reached a “deal” to close a loophole that could allow the voucher program to expand statewide. However, in recent weeks, a spokesperson for Rep. Vos has said he is now questioning the need to pass the deal.

Despite claiming voucher schools would be included in any new school accountability standards legislation, it was reported last minute changes made by Gov. Walker and Republicans to an omnibus education bill would not include the accountability standards as previously agreed.

Browne concluded, “We’ve seen time and again how big dollars contributors to Gov. Walker and GOP legislators somehow seem to end up getting their way. And this time our kids are paying the price with draconian cuts to our K-12 public schools and backtracking on school accountability.”

A fact sheet with a timeline of events and voucher advocate contributions can be found here.

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