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When he ran for governor in 2018, Democrat Tony Evers – at the time, the state schools superintendent – promised to tighten regulations on the state's private school voucher program, or even end it if he could.
With Republicans in the Legislature aiming to expand the programs, you can guess how this effort went. And you're probably right.
In the latest iteration of the ongoing battle, the governor proposed capping enrollment in the 2022-23 school year for each of the state's three choice programs, and the special needs scholarship program, at the levels reached in the 2021-22 school year.
Evers also proposed oversight measures regarding private choice schools, such as requiring all teachers to have a teaching license or permit issued by the state, and requiring property tax bills to include information regarding reductions in state aid to the district due to the choice programs.
Republicans blocked the measures. Likewise, Evers has blocked GOP efforts to expand programs. Spokesperson Britt Cudaback said that included "vetoing 2021 Assembly Bill 970, which would have eliminated income limits for participation in private choice programs with a cost to taxpayers of potentially more than $500 million."
So, this battle could be revisited if Evers wins a second term. But for now it's a bit of a stalemate.
We rate this promise Stalled.
Email, Evers spokesperson Britt Cudaback, July 12, 2022
As the state schools chief, Tony Evers had some changes in mind as he pursued the governor's office in 2018.
The state's voucher schools program — long a point of partisan tension in Wisconsin — grew under Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
On the campaign trail, Evers promised to take things in the other direction in a written statement to the School Administrators Alliance:
"As Governor, I would work with the legislature to phase out vouchers; if Republican control of the Legislature makes that impossible, then I would ensure the state adequately funds public schools and require voucher schools to use licensed teachers, adopt student safeguards like IDEA and non-discrimination protection, and implement needed transparency measures."
So far, his ideas have gone nowhere.
Evers' budget sought to cap enrollment in the school choice program at 2019-20 levels, require all choice school teachers to be licensed, require new choice schools be accredited by their first year and include information about choice school impact on property tax bills. The Republican Legislature blocked all four measures.
The Evers-O-Meter rates outcomes, not intent. But his promise didn't specify a timeframe, so he could still make progress on this later in his term.
For now, we rate this promise Stalled.
Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Comparative Summary of Provisions, 2019-21 State Budget (page 412), August 2019
Email exchange and interview with Melissa Baldauff, spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers, Oct. 14-15, 2019