Voucher advocates have spent $10 million on Wisconsin elections in past decadeA government watchdog group says voucher advocates have spent nearly $10 million over the past ten years trying to influence elections in Wisconsin.
By: By Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A government watchdog group says voucher advocates have spent nearly $10 million over the past ten years trying to influence elections in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says more than half of that spending came in just the last two years as Governor Scott Walker and several Republican state senators faced recall elections.
Democracy Campaign Director Mike McCabe says it is notable because over the two decades since lawmakers started the Milwaukee school voucher program, it has not proven to be more effective than public schools.
“But instead of talking about ending it, they're talking about expanding it,” he said. “Well, why is that? And I think following the money helps explain it. There are an awful lot of pressing problems that don't even get the legislature's attention.”
Of the campaign contributions that went directly to candidates, the Democracy Campaign says nearly two-thirds came from out-of-state donors.
Mike Ford with the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank, says it is good to have these numbers out there, but he says it should come as no surprise that voucher advocates are politically active. Ford contends there are other factors driving the program.
“I don't think you can honestly say that 25,000 students are using the Milwaukee Parental Choice program because they're somehow being duped by big money politics,” he said. “They're using the program because they find it successful.”
The report says Walker alone received roughly $2.2 million for his June 2012 recall election. Walker wants to increase voucher school funding and expand them to nine new districts in the next budget.