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Gov. Evers signs Milwaukee financial rescue, quietly signs school choice plan

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Tony Evers traveled to Wausau, 188 miles from Milwaukee, to sign the shared revenue legislation that will allow Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to raise their sales taxes and share $297 million with other local governments across the rest of the state.

“To leave our state with a legacy of prosperity, we must fulfill our obligation to fund our communities,” Evers said. “And yes, that does include ensuring economic solvency, stability, and success for the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.”

The governor’s office said they moved the bill signing to Wausau to reflect the fact that the legislation affects every community in the state.

The public signing for the Milwaukee portion of the shared revenue plan, as far as from Milwaukee as it was, is a stark contrast to the quiet way Gov. Evers signed the school funding portion of the package.

The governor signed that law in private, and dismissed critics who say the package provides too much money for private and voucher schools in Wisconsin’s choice program.

“What people forget is every time we have a budget for public schools, our money for charters or for vouchers goes up, too,” Evers told reporters. “And so there’s almost nothing different this time than last time. We added a little bit more money in order to get this deal across the finish line.”

The “little bit more money” takes per-student funding for choice schools to as high as $12,368 for high school students. The same plan proves $1 billion more for traditional public schools in Wisconsin.

Many of the governor’s fellow Democrats remain angry about that bump for choice schools.

“We got word that Gov. Evers just signed the Republican’s voucher expansion bill into law. Because of this awful agreement, within 2 years, unaccountable voucher schools will have a HIGHER reimbursement rate than some public schools,” Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said on Twitter. “This is truly disappointing. If we don’t fight to reverse this bill, the right-wing movement that has been funding these efforts since the end of segregation will get exactly what was intended: the death of public education in Wisconsin.”

School choice supporters, however, are thrilled by the governor’s signature.

“This action represents significant new funding for choice schools, allowing them to not just survive, but expand and thrive. It’s critical that we continue fighting to ensure that every student is valued equally, no matter where they live or what type of school they attend,” Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty President Rick Esenberg said Tuesday. “Senate Bill 330 further empowers Wisconsin families to choose the best education for their child. We are grateful to not just the governor, but Speaker Vos and Majority Leader LeMahieu for their leadership and commitment to providing a quality education for all Wisconsin families.”

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