Saturday, February 11, 2006

What About the Funding Flaw?

One day after reporting the two sides of the Milwaukee voucher program debate weren't even close to an agreement, the Journal-Sentinel reports today that a deal may be near.

This is encouraging news. What’s particularly encouraging is to see John Gard and the Republicans come down from their demand that the enrollment cap be increased to 100% to the much more reasonable level of 25%. Doyle and the Dems appear to still be at 20%, but this does mean the two sides are much closer than before. With only 5% separating the two, it seems some kind of step-increase agreement would do the trick, where the cap increases to 20% in 2006-2007 and then up to 25% in 2007-2008.

I was also very happy to hear Gard comment that he is open to including an increase in SAGE funding with the voucher expansion.

However, there was no mention in the JS article about how the two sides are going to agree to fix the funding flaw that is currently forcing Milwaukee residents to pay $1000 more for each voucher student than they pay for each MPS student.

Mayor Barrett made a very fair proposal (some could even argue too fair) to shift that extra $1000 from Milwaukee taxpayers to the state for students who enter the voucher program above the current 15% cap, while Doyle’s initial proposal on the topic was to shift the entire cost of the voucher program to the state over the next five years. As far as I know, the Republicans have made no public proposal in terms of fixing the funding flaw.

The silence on the funding flaw issue does concern me, but otherwise the talks seem to be moving ahead nicely.

UPDATE: Alan Borsuk had this to say in Monday's Journal-Sentinel about the the possiblity that fixing the funding flaw will be part of the agreement between Democrats and Republicans on the voucher issue: "
In the real and partisan politics of this, it doesn't look good for this being dealt with in any agreement right now." This is not good news for Milwaukee families.

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