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Shankland opposes Walker budget vouchers, spending priorities


STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) -  Democrat Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point is opposed to much of Governor Scott Walker’s budget plan. Her main problem with it is the plan to expand voucher schools.

She disagrees with sending money away from schools in her district to support voucher school expansions in other parts of the state. Shankland also wants more accountability from voucher school programs. “Really, what that does is creates separate and unequal schools, and also, these voucher schools are in other parts of the state. They’re really nowhere near us. We’re shipping our tax dollars to larger cities that are implementing this program, and these voucher schools are unaccountable. They’re not required to have teachers have background checks, they’re not required to have the same standardized tests and common core standards that public schools have, so I think a lot of taxpayers are really concerned about not only the inequity but sending our tax dollars to other communities that really won’t benefit them.”

Representative Shankland is also at odds with Governor Walker for his decision to turn down federal dollars to expand Medicaid and Badgercare. She believes Walker should follow the lead of other Republican Governors and accept the funds because not doing so hurts Wisconsin taxpayers. “That cost is 100 million dollars to taxpayers, and we are covering 175 thousand less people in health insurance, so really what that does it puts taxpayers at a really distinct disadvantage.”

Shankland says there are Republicans who disagree with the Governor on this issue, and she’s hoping he changes his position. “What we really need to do is accept the money. We still can take it. There’s a bill in the Legislature to do that. I really hope to see bipartisan support for it.”

The 71st District Democrat is also critical of recent legislation that would allow large foreign ownership of Wisconsin land and is also questioning the need to borrow a billion dollars for transportation projects in this new budget.

Assembly Bill 60 is her legislation designed to change the law which allowed the Department of Public Instruction to seek a single vendor for student information software, excluding Stevens Point based Skyward in February.  She is hoping to see action, but admits the Senate companion bill may be stuck in the Education Committee.  Shankland does have a meeting scheduled for next week with Governor Walker to discuss this issue.

Shankland discussed the budget and other issues during a listening session Thursday evening at the Portage County Public Library.