Voucher School Opponents Bring Thousands Of Signed Petitions To Capitol

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Democrats and voucher school opponents say they’ve collected nearly 17,000 signatures from people opposed to voucher school expansion.

Republicans have said they want to wrap up the Joint Finance Committee’s work on the budget by early June, which would mean key decisions on education funding and vouchers are right around the corner.

Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposed increasing funding for voucher schools and expanding them to nine new districts beyond Milwaukee and Racine. Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains) says if that happens, it will only hurt public schools going forward: “I believe that this is a watershed moment and we must act now to save public education.”

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Pope and others collected about 16,809 signatures calling for the removal of the voucher expansion from the budget. Joining the group was Beloit Superintendent Steve McNeal, whose city is one of those slated for vouchers: “The devastating truth is this budget as proposed and with the expansion of vouchers would be the biggest blow to us yet.”

The budget the governor introduced included no increase in the amount public schools could spend per student. Walker and other Republicans have since talked about increasing that, possibly by $150 per student or more. Democrats say the increase ought to be $275 per student in each of the next two years to partially undo the cuts to school funding in the last budget.

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