Contact: Representative Dana Wachs
MADISON-A bill that would let taxpayers know how much their local school district is being hit to fund the state voucher program was introduced today by State Representative Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire).
“Spending on unaccountable private schools through the voucher program has expanded dramatically, and taxpayers deserve to know how much it’s costing them,” Rep. Wachs said. “Just as your property tax bill shows how much goes to public schools and technical colleges, you should know the cost of expanding the voucher program.”
Dubbed the Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency Bill, the proposal would require a property tax bill to include information from the school district showing the amount of any new reduction in state aid that is a result of students being enrolled in the voucher program. This information would help provide transparency for any tax increase from the school district that was needed to cover the reduction. The provision would not apply to districts where there are no students enrolled in the program.
Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Mt. Horeb), ranking member on the Assembly Committee on Education, expressed her support of the bill. “This bill will shine a much needed light on the cost of voucher schools to Wisconsin taxpayers,” said Rep. Pope. “This second, competing, school system has clearly hurt public education in Wisconsin, and taxpayers have been on the hook for it. This proposal will provide transparency to taxpayers on how much these unaccountable schools are costing them.”
“When Governor Walker and Republicans in the Legislature expanded the voucher program, it took money straight out of public school classrooms,” Rep. Wachs said. “These private voucher schools, which don’t face the same quality safeguards as public schools, cost taxpayers $245 million last school year, up about $15 million from the year before. This directly undermines our ability to adequately fund our public schools. Taxpayers need to understand what they are paying for, and the Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency Bill will do just that.”