November 26, 2003 TO THE HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY: I am vetoing Assembly Bill 472 in its entirety. This bill allows a student to continue in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program so long as the family income of the student is below 220 percent of the federal poverty level. Under current law, the family's income must be under 175 percent of the federal poverty level for the pupil to remain in the program.
Providing reasonable flexibility to families with children already in the Choice program has merit. However, I am vetoing this legislation because I object to increasing state expenditures for the Choice program in isolation. Flexibility for the Choice program must be considered as a part of a larger educational reform initiative that addresses the educational needs of all of the children in the City of Milwaukee, including the vast majority of children who will remain in the public school system.
In addition, before any increases in funding for the Choice program are considered, Wisconsin taxpayers must be assured that Choice schools accepting public dollars meet reasonable accountability standards. It is not satisfactory that most schools in the Choice program are providing a high quality education. All must.
I applaud the genuine efforts of the legislators who developed this bill. However, I cannot sign this legislation into law until there is agreement on comprehensive reform that benefits all of Milwaukee's school children. Respectfully submitted, JIM DOYLE Governor