UDPATE: Battle over school funding at public hearing on budget - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: First of four public budget hearings features battle over school funding

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GREENDALE (WKOW) -- Republicans lawmakers on the Joint Finance Committee got a dose of reality from school officials in their own communities at the first of four public hearings on Governor Walker's state budget proposal.

But roughly 200 private elementary school students made the biggest scene of the day, flocking into the Greendale High School auditorium with their school leaders, to encourage the JFC to support the Governor's plan to increase funding for school choice vouchers.

"$6,442 for the choice students and about $9,000 thousand state funding and $13,000 with categorical aids for MPS (Milwaukee Public Schools)," said Chuck Moore of the Lutheran Urban Mission Initiative.  "Aren't the kids worth the same amount of money?  Why are the voucher kids devalued at almost half-price." 

Those public school officials from Republican districts came with a much different message.

"I support the Ellis/Olsen proposal," said Dennis Krueger, a member of the Kettle Moraine School Board.

"Look at supporting the Olsen/Ellis proposal at $150 per pupil," echoed Blaise Paul, Director of Business Services for the South Milwaukee School District.

"Giving us authority at the local level to make the decision whether or not we need those dollars," added Ted Neitzke, Superintendent of the West Bend School District.

Those same people who supported and worked with all of the tools given to them by Act 10 two years ago, say they can't support a freeze on per pupil spending and want the JFC to support the alternative plan put forth by Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah).

"My request to you today is that you increase the school aid formula," said Krueger.

Others who spoke, want the spending increases in the budget to be solely focused on getting Wisconsin back to work.

"I want you to take out everything that isn't about the creation of jobs in Wisconsin," said Linea Sundstrom of Shorewood.

The Joint Finance Committee has three more public hearings scheduled as follows: 

Monday, April 8th at Lambeau Field.
Wednesday, April 10th at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Thursday, April 18th at Baldwin-Woodville High School in Baldwin.

Each public hearing will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Legislature's budget-writing committee is holding its first of four public hearings on Governor Scott Walker's two-year spending plan.

The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee is taking public comment for eight hours at Greendale High School near Milwaukee. The other hearings are Monday at Lambeau Field, Wednesday in Lake Delton and April 18 in Baldwin.

The hearings are the public's only chance to speak out on the budget that would expand private school vouchers, reject a federally funded Medicaid expansion, cut income taxes and increase bonding to pay for roads projects.

Republicans who control the Legislature have raised concerns about numerous parts of Walker's plan. The budget committee will spend the next several weeks voting on changes before the revised plan goes to the Senate and Assembly for approval.

Greg Neumann will have more on Thursday's public hearing tonight in 27 News at 5, 6 and 10.

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