Republicans Consider Shrinking Charter Schools, Voucher Expansion


Republicans still aren’t sure what they want in the state’s education budget, but a few are talking openly about what they want taken out.

Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling, who co-chairs the legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee, told reporters that Republicans might delete part of Walker’s school budget that would create a new statewide charter schools board.

“Charters? We’re thinking about taking it out and we haven’t decided [between] that and having a separate bill.”

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While the charter school plan might fall, Darling and many other Republicans are vocal supporters of Walker’s plan to expand publicly-funded private voucher schools. Other Republicans, including Sen. Luther Olsen and Sen. Mike Ellis have been more critical. Walker’s budget would expand vouchers to nine districts that performed poorly on new school report cards. Olsen was firm on that proposal, saying he and Ellis want it out.

“We don’t want to use the report card and we don’t want to use the nine-school thing. We’re not going down that road. That’s our position. So if we can come up with something else, we’re interested.”

If Olsen and Darling both get their way, that would whittle down Walker’s education budget considerably. Walker was asked if he needed vouchers to expand to nine cities or whether he’d be ok with just one or two.

“Oh, I don’t know if we have a set number, we’d just like to have an expansion so that more families in this state have a choice, and I think we’re well on our way to getting there.”

Walker says he does not expect the voucher budget approved in the end will be “city specific.” It’s now looking like the budget committee could vote on vouchers and school funding as early as next Tuesday.