Thursday, May 23, 2013

The GOP and Their Entitlements: Who is Really Guzzling the Public Trough?

When you think of the term "entitlement," what comes to mind?

Bet it isn't "The right to attend a private school on the taxpayer dime"!

Start thinking about it now, though, because that's exactly the new entitlement that Robin Vos and the ultra-ALEC wing of the WI-GOP are jonesing to create in Wisconsin -- perhaps as early as this coming school year.

Vos has made no secret of his ALEC-enabled desires to make a private-school entitlement a reality for the entire state of Wisconsin.  In a little-noticed story on WPR last week, GOP Considers State-Wide School Vouchers ( Vos had this to say:

“I have said from the beginning my only disappointment with the governor's budget is that we do not have statewide school choice, so I am incredibly optimistic. I know there is some resistance in the Senate, but I want school choice for every single child in the state.”

So why, you may ask, is Robin Vos so very optimistic?  After all, Walker's budget proposal only entails sticking it to the cities (i.e. voucher expansion to districts with over 4000 students and at least two questionable school-report-card-scores.)  And then there's the resistance in the Senate (from such Senate leaders as GOP Senate President Mike Ellis and Education Committee Chair Luther Olsen).  Why the optimism?

The line-item veto, that's why.

Rep. Sondy Pope explains how it works in a chilling article in the Progressive, Scott Walker's Sneaky School Voucher Plan ( ) by Ruth Conniff:

"At a Friday press conference on the threat to public schools in Wisconsin, Democratic state representative Sondy Pope of Middleton said, "People who think 'Well, I'm safe, because my district isn't part of the voucher expansion,' need to understand that the governor might very well expand vouchers statewide."

All it would take, Rep. Pope explained, would be for the governor to cross out language in the budget requiring that a district have 4,000 students and two "failing" schools. Eliminate those qualifying clauses and, voila--every school district in Wisconsin will have to put local tax dollars into private schools."

The only way to kill this all-too-plausible scenario is this:

Voucher expansion MUST come out of the budget.  ENTIRELY.  No grand bargains, no trading voucher expansion for increased school funding, no paring back the proposal to "just a few" cities.

If the party that shrieks against entitlements at every turn wants to impose an immense new entitlement statewide, let them propose the damn thing as separate legislation.

It's the least that the Governor who campaigned on NOT including policy in budget legislation can do, don't you think?


  1. There are 122,071 pupils enrolled at private schools in Wisconsin this year, 24,027 of whom are using a voucher in so doing, so 98,044 who aren't currently.

    Vouchers run at an average $6,442 each this year. Where's another $632 million going to come from?

  2. As it is written currently only Kindergarten and 9th graders currently in private schools can receive the voucher. That is, if it makes it out of the finance committee and the legislature that way, Walker could line item veto that as well.