Records Reveal Private School Voucher Industry Lobbyist Wrote Latest Republican Bill Proposing to “Regulate” Voucher Industry

Free Rein for School Privatization Cartel Under Gov. Walker's Administration

MADISON, Wis. — A review of legislative drafting files by One Wisconsin Now has uncovered legislation claiming to impose new accountability requirements on schools participating in the private school voucher program was written by the lobbyist for the school privatization industry.

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “While this isn’t the first time Gov. Walker and this Republican controlled legislature have turned over the writing of bills to an industry’s special interest lobbyist, this latest episode doesn’t make it any better.”

Under the terms of Assembly Bill 748, a “new private school” that wished to receive taxpayer money through the voucher program would in certain limited circumstances need to meet a new accreditation standard. However, schools already participating in the program, even those failing to produce positive results for students, are largely untouched by the so-called accountability legislation.

Drafting records reveal the bill’s provisions were crafted by a lobbyist for the private school industry that is slated to receive over $380 million from state taxpayers through the private school voucher program in the 2013-15 budget.

An email from the School Choice Wisconsin lobbyist to legislative staff provides specific drafting instructions. A later email from the agency that drafted the language of the bill reports that it was done so per the directions of the voucher lobbyist included in his earlier email.

The bill’s purported legislative authors are no strangers to the school privatization industry. Senate author Leah Vukmir declared she would not support the 2013-15 state budget if it did not include an expansion of the private school voucher program. Meanwhile Assembly author Representative Jessie Rodriguez previously worked for the voucher industry and benefited from big spending from voucher-connected groups in her late 2013 special election.

“The industry which bankrolled Rodriguez’s campaign and helped those of many other Republicans is authoring bills to laughably hold that industry accountable. If you needed any more evidence of the free rein the school privatization cartel has under Gov. Walker’s administration, look no further than this bill,” concluded Ross.

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