State committee to put finishing touches on spending plan

MADISON (WITI) -- Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin Legislature's budget-writing committee will likely put the finishing touches on the budget this week -- and present a two-year spending plan for the state.

There is one controversial issue left to deal with -- school voucher expansion. Opposition to the plan is coming from both sides of the aisle and creating some unusual allies.

"We're trying to draw a line of saying there should be no voucher expansion in this budget," said Democratic State Sen. Chris Larson.

Larson says expanding vouchers statewide would de-fund public education. He finds himself making the same argument against the plan as one of the Senate's staunch Republicans.

""The first responsibility under the constitution is to the public school system," said Republican State Sen. Mike Ellis.

Sen. Ellis is as candid as he is powerful. The so-called "Master of the Senate" says he will not support the governor's plan. Ellis says he has lined up support to increase spending in public schools by $200 per student.

Gov. Walker's plan would expand voucher schools to any district where two or more schools with 4,000 or more students have received a "D" or an "F" on a state report card.

""The governor's plan says that if two school buildings in Neenah  -- and we have 13 school buildings," said Ellis. "If two schools fail, the entire school system is considered a failure."

Ellis says the existing choice schools, only the ones in Racine and Milwaukee, should see funding increases.