Black, Hispanic legislators urge caution in expanding Milwaukee voucher

Members of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus wrote Gov. Scott Walker and legislative leaders recently expressing concern that “outside forces and ideology will dominate this discussion” over the proposed expansion of the Milwaukee voucher program. In particular, the members have called for maintaining the accountability standards governing the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program put in place two years ago as well as maintaining the income limits. Gov. Walker has called for eliminating the income threshold, which currently limits eligibility to those students who come from households at 175 percent of poverty. Not long before the Black and Latino Caucus sent the letter, longtime choice champion Howard Fuller told the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee that he would oppose any program that “essentially provides a subsidy for rich people.”

Just as Fuller has done, the legislators recommended aligning the income threshold of the voucher program with the BadgerCare initiative in Wisconsin, which provides health care to state residents who earn less than 300 percent of poverty. “It is common sense that the level of poverty that qualifies a family for healthcare should be the same as that which qualifies a family for the choice program, always intended to be for low-income persons,” the legislators wrote.

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit