MADISON, Wis. — According to the latest round of campaign finance filings, individuals associated with the private school voucher industry kept busy filling the campaign coffers of Gov. Walker and others, even after Election Day. According to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross their donations are already paying off handsomely in the 2015 legislative session.
“Private school voucher backers and their front groups have poured millions of dollars into campaigns on behalf of Gov. Walker and lapdog legislators,” said Ross. “It’s no coincidence that the 2015 legislative session has kicked off with more special treatment for the private school voucher industry.”
A review of campaign finance reports covering late 2014 by One Wisconsin Now found voucher boosters poured over $130,000 into Republican campaign coffers. Gov. Walker’s campaign raked in just over $28,000 while the state Republican Party snagged $100,000, including a $25,000 donation nearly three weeks after the November 2014 election. The co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance, who will be reviewing the state budget, received generous contributions with $1,100 going to Senator Alberta Darling who was not up for election in 2014 and $1,000 to Rep. John Nygren in December.
In return, legislators and Gov. Walker have been generous to voucher schools. Legislation to implement accountability standards on schools has exempted private voucher schools found to be failing from reductions in state taxpayer funding and loopholes in the law allowing voucher schools to use unlicensed teachers remain in force.
Gov. Walker’s 2015 budget proposal hits public schools with a $127 million cut but lifts caps on the number of students allowed in the private school voucher program. He also changes the way private school vouchers will be paid to take money directly away from public schools and continues to stick taxpayers with the tab for the tuition of thousands of students who were already attending private schools.
And despite the $2.2 billion budget hole Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature have put the state in, a $30 million tax break worth up to $10,000 for people who are already sending their children to private schools will continue.
Ross concluded, “Private voucher schools have consistently failed to show they improve their students academic achievement when compared to their public school peers. But they get top marks for filling GOP politicians campaign coffers and making sure they keep our tax money flowing back to them.”