Several sources familiar with the budget negotiations in Madison tell RightWisconsin that a deal has been reached in the School Choice impasse.
Earlier this week, Republican Senator Mike Ellis told reporters that negotiations were at an impasse. Ellis and several other Republicans met with the Governor and his aides over the last 36 hours in an attempt to broker a deal.
School Choice Expansion:
The deal creates a new statewide voucher program outside of Milwaukee and Racine with a tighter eligibility limit (185% FPL) than the Milwaukee and Racine programs (300 % FPL).
The first year they would provide for only 500 students
In the second year, they would provide for only 1,000 students
Any increases after that would require the passage of new legislation
Incredibly, no school district would be permitted to lose more than 1% of its students to the voucher program
The onerous cap stays in place unless it is raised in the future by legislative action
School Choice Funding:
K-8 per pupil increases from 6442 to 6860 (Was increased to $7,050 in the Governor’s budget)
9-12 per pupil increases from 6442 to 7638 (Was increased to $7,856 in Governor’s budget)
These new amounts kick in in year one of the biennium (Governor’s proposed implementation date was in year two of the biennium )
The Special Needs Scholarship is removed
There will be an as yet undefined tuition tax credit in a separate tax package to be negotiated and announced later
The Governor had originally proposed an expansion of school choice to large school districts who, according to the new statewide school report cards, had at least two failing schools. As I mentioned, the Governor had proposed a more significant increase in school choice per pupil expenditures than the deal reached today as well.
So, as of 8:30 pm, that’s what I know.
In the morning, come back to RightWisconsin where we will be able to further analyze this modest Rube Goldberg expansion of the School Choice program.