GOP support for Walker education budget crumbling
MADISON Senate Republicans won't back Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to expand private school voucher programs or freeze public school spending, GOP leaders told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The dissention within his party over key elements of Walker's budget comes as a blow to the Republican governor less than two weeks after he released a plan intended to serve as the cornerstone of his legislative agenda for the next two years.
Senators remain committed to a voucher school expansion but are working on alternatives to what Walker proposed, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told AP in an interview. He also said there is "no doubt at all" that public schools will be allowed to increase per-pupil spending even though Walker called for a freeze to help keep property taxes in check.
Most Republican senators won't back Walker's voucher plan, his proposal to give charter schools more autonomy or to give vouchers to special needs students, said Senate President Mike Ellis. He said Walker's proposals will need to be "drastically changed."
"They have to be rewritten," Ellis said. "What's there is not going to work. It's got to be redone."
Republicans hold an 18-15 majority in the Senate, and it would only take a couple of them to cause trouble for Walker's proposals. An identical version of the budget must pass both the Senate and the Republican-controlled Assembly.
While Ellis's opposition to voucher expansion and freezing school spending was well-known, broader dissention makes it much more likely that some or all of Walker's education proposals will be changed before the budget is passed in June.