February 9, 2016

Ellis says voucher plan unlikely to stay in budget

A Republican leader in the state Senate says it is unlikely Governor Walker’s proposed expansion of school vouchers will survive the budget process. Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) says a majority of Republican senators do not support the budget proposal, which would expand the program to at least nine school districts in the state and offer vouchers for special needs students, while also creating a charter school oversight board.

The Neenah Republican says there are several GOP lawmakers who are “not necessarily against vouchers,” but do not believe they belong in the budget. He says there is a consensus that it should be introduced as a separate bill, so those in the impacted areas can have a conversation about the voucher plan. Ellis says some in the Senate Republican caucus do strongly oppose expanding the taxpayer-funded voucher program at all.

AUDIO: Sen. Mike Ellis (:19)

The Senate president has been a vocal critic of expanding vouchers schools, arguing that it should at least require a public referendum in the communities where they are being considered. Governor Walker has said he does not support requiring a public vote.

Republicans hold an 18-15 majority in the Senate. Ellis says many of the senators who oppose including the voucher expansion in the budget may support it as a standalone bill.

Rick Schuh, WHBY

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