Wed June 19, 2013
GOP Considers, Declines $5M Voucher Expansion In Racine
Updated 9:12 a.m.: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos's office confirms the Racine voucher expansion is now off the table.
Assembly Republicans considered but ultimately did not grow Racine's new school voucher program by expanding it to students already enrolled in private schools.
When vouchers were expanded to Racine last session, they were limited to students who were previously enrolled in public schools or to students in their first years of grade school or high school. A GOP plan unveiled last night would have lifted those restrictions. The change would have cost state taxpayers more than $5 million.
It's one of several items related to voucher schools some Republicans wanted in the budget as it nears passage in the state Assembly. Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said he was only learning details of the changes Tuesday night, even though the Assembly was supposed to debate the budget all day.
“You know, we arrived this morning expecting to have the entire budget in front of us, and it seems like it's changing by the minute.”
Republicans were also working on a budget amendment to let the Department of Natural Resources restrict access to public land around the Northern Wisconsin mining site being explored by the company Gogebic Taconite. They also want to change the budget to delay a plan that would make it harder to block high capacity wells.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he was confident the changes would get passed in the Assembly and the Senate.
“Yes, I believe that the technical language in the amendment is the final version that will go through both houses, so we don't have to have any amendments.”
Republicans would also remove caps they added to a property tax credit for disabled veterans. All told, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau says the changes will increase the budget's structural deficit from about $500 million to roughly $550 million.