Wisconsin Taxpayers Often Funding Private Schools 3 to 1 over Public Schools

Wisconsin Taxpayers Often Funding Private Schools 3 to 1 over Public Schools

Hello Folks,

There’s a lot of new people who have recently signed up to get this email, so I want to briefly explain what I do every Sunday.

A percentage of the proceeds of everything the Minocqua Brewing Company sells—beer, merchandise, coffee, wine—is donated back to the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC. Super PACs are inherently evil things that are crushing American democracy and giving faceless corporations way more influence on public policy than actual voters, but until the laws change, I feel we have to fight fire with fire. That’s why I created a grass roots Super PAC like this one, which has raised over $1M on ~$45 contributions, on average, since 2021.

On Sundays I generally write about what our Super PAC is focused on, or something about American or Wisconsin politics, because the rest of the week I’m trying to sell beer:)

Since Janet Protasiewicz was elected to Wisconsin’s Supreme Court last April, we now have a 2-year window, starting when she takes office in August, where we’re assured that our Supreme Court won’t be corrupt. That’s because two years from now there will be another Supreme Court election, and there’s no telling what sort of corrupt candidate fueled by dark money might get elected. That means that there is no time to waste in suing our gerrymandered and corrupt Republican legislature for everything unconstitutional that they’ve done or “not done” in the last 12 years.

The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC is laser-focused on building a case to rid Wisconsin of its voucher school program which is siphoning millions of dollars away from our public school system and putting those dollars into religious or charter schools, ultimately creating two separate school systems with only one set of YOUR TAX DOLLARS. We are 100% positive that this system is unconstitutional given that it doesn’t ensure that every kid in Wisconsin will get a decent education, but we need to prove it in court.

Last week, I posted a graph that showed that in much of rural Wisconsin, the voucher school dollars per pupil guaranteed by the state vastly outnumbered the public school dollars guaranteed by the state.

What do I mean by that?

Look at the graph I posted at the top of this email. Find the Lakeland High School district in Minocqua, home of the Minocqua Brewing Company. Given our state aid formula, every kid in this district is ensured $3,158 by the state, but the private state voucher system guarantees each kid in that same district $8,336. This means that the voucher system that goes to religious and private schools gets $5,178 more of your Wisconsin tax dollars in this district than the public high school does.

Said another way, your public state tax dollars are paying for kids to go to religious or private schools in Minocqua at a rate of almost 3 to 1 more than the public school. How insane is this?

And it’s happening all over the state of Wisconsin.

I asked Charles Uphoff, an activist in Wisconsin who compiled this data from the Department of Public Instruction, to show me where the 10 worst areas where this was happening in Wisconsin by assembly district. To no one’s surprise, they were all in rural districts led by Republican representatives.

Why is this generally happening in rural districts? Because of two very important and very unfair parts of the funding formula:

  • Public school district’s funding is allocated using a formula that takes into account the property “wealth” of the district., whereas a district’s property wealth is not factored into funding that is guaranteed for private voucher school students—thus the poorer the area, the less in state public school funding, but the SAME in private voucher funding.
  • Private voucher funding is guaranteed and comes off the top of state aid funding and public school districts get what is left. Thus public school districts funded by your public tax dollars GET THE SCRAPS after the private and religious schools get first dibs on the overall tax pie.

Again, this is just not right.

What’s even worse is that Republican Assembly Leader, Robin Vos, just negotiated an overall rise in voucher school funding from $8,366 to $9,500 per K-8 student and $9,045 to $12,000 for every high school student in Wisconsin. This deal also allocates more money to public schools kids throughout the state, but caps that extra money at $350 per pupil next year, and $650 per pupil the year after—meaning voucher funding is outpacing public school funding, and public school funding is allocated after the voucher schools get their funding, so these public school increases are not guaranteed if the money runs out.

What is absolutely galling about all of this is that Robin Vos’ own assembly district is one of the 10 worst in the state in terms of how little funding public schools get relative to voucher schools.

He should be forced to tell tax payers in the Yorkville school district, for example, why they have to pay for other people’s kids to go to religious and private schools over their public school at a rate of over 3 to 1.

So here’s what I want to do. Ultimately, I want to contact a representative at every one of these public school districts that are getting less public school dollars than voucher school dollars, and better understand how that lack of state aid is hurting the local public school district.

Once we connect with you, we can potentially ask you to be a plaintiff in the upcoming suit we’re filing against the Republican legislature, and/or we can tell your district’s story and raise awareness on the Up North Podcast, which is aired over the radio, internet, and our Minocqua Brewing Company social media channels. If you think you'd be a good representative for your school district, or want to recommend someone else who is, please email us here.

And finally, we haven’t quite hit our goal of raising the $15K seed money to pay lawyers to wade through the legal aspects of this potential case and recommend the best course of action. If you’re as infuriated by these graphs as I am, and especially if you live in one of these school districts getting bled dry by private school vouchers, please consider chipping in here to help the cause.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring about Wisconsin's public schools. Together, we can Make Wisconsin Great Again, one beer and public school dollar at a time.

Kirk Bangstad,
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC

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