December 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Wisconsin’s voucher program will drain $2.2 million from public schools this year, and taxpayers could be stuck with higher taxes.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that lawmakers are considering an increase in property taxes in order to fully fund public schools in Brown County, where each school district has reported heavy reductions in state aid. The reductions are due to new adjustments to the state’s voucher program. State lawmakers expanded the program and abolished a fund that had been set aside to defray the cost to school districts.

“Any time we’re moving resources away from public schools, we have concerns,” said a Green Bay School District spokeswoman.

Vouchers are now available to 1 percent of each school district’s students. The state also approved 26 new private schools as voucher recipients last year. That includes a number of private religious institutions, including Fox Valley Lutheran High School in Appleton, Saint Paul Lutheran School in Bonduel, Winnebago Lutheran Academy in Fond du Lac and Saint Paul Lutheran School and Trinity Luth­eran School in Sheboygan.

“It’s very clear from that list that Badger State taxpayers are being forced to subsidize religious education with public funds meant for public schools. And now, it seems this ploy could also lead to higher taxes,” wrote Americans United’s Simon Brown at AU’s “Wall of Separation” blog.