Last night at Best Western PLUS Inn on the Park Hotel Rep. Robin Vos, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, Sen. Mike Ellis and Sen. Glenn Grothman sat down at the hotel's bar and decided to hold an open caucus.The group of republicans started speaking loudly. What was being discussed prompted a citizen to turn on their cellphone.
The issue of school vouchers came up and Robin Vos states "Well, there is a way to find $200 million in venture capital" with Sen. Mike Ellis responding "I'd like to hear this". But wait a minute, he can find $200 million for school vouchers but can't find money for public education? The duo continued in the conversation which included a pronouncement that Jeff Fitzgerald and Scott Fitzgerald are basically inept. Neither Vos nor Ellis appeared to be concerned where they were discussing political strategies. Perhaps they believe they live in a bubble or are surrounded by an invisible Cone of Silence.
So what where they discussing?
We believe that Ellis and Vos were discussing the loophole in Scott Walker's budget that if not closed would allow the Green Bay Public School system to be opened up to the voucher program.Host Madison reported.
The so-called loophole was inserted into the state budget at the final stage of approval in June by members of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. The last-minute language allowed voucher schools to expand from their sole location in Milwaukee to Racine. No other city qualified, although Green Bay was one criterion shy of qualifying and several other cities, including Madison, were two criteria short of qualifying for voucher schools, Johnson says.
The budget provision would make vouchers available to "second-class" cities that had 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced lunch and met certain state aid requirements. Wisconsin has 16 second-class cities, which generally are those with populations of between 39,000 and 149,999. Robin Vos has been seen around Madison rubbing elbows with school voucher lobbyists and is probably mounting opposition to the closure of the loophole. When Ellis referenced Preble High as a sewer, it was clear he had no idea what he was talking about.
We did a bit of research on Preble High School and found that the school has approximately 3,500 students and also learned that the school is a held in high regard in a very red area of the state. The school is also situated in a middle class neighborhood and not far from homes that range in values of $300,000-$400,000 in value with former Green Bay Packer players living nearby.
The school is also located in the heart of Senator Dave Hansen's district; you'll remember Hansen overwhelmingly defeated David Vanderleest in this past summer's recall election. We reached out to Senator Hansen for comment on this video as well as WEAC and at the time of publication, had not received a response. There was much more to this conversation and video but we'll save that for our next story.