Fitz, Vos still trying to determine ‘big number’ for K-12

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos today said that they were open to providing a boost for special education and were still trying to determine “what the big number is” for K-12 school funding.

Addressing reporters on a jaunt up a Capitol staircase shortly after concluding a meeting with Gov. Tony Evers, Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Vos, R-Rochester, both indicated a willingness to increase funding for special education, but said it was too early in the process to provide specific funding levels.

Both caucuses met today ahead of Thursday’s Joint Finance Committee vote on school funding. Assembly Republicans also planned an early afternoon news conference on education funding.

“I think the Senate and the Assembly still have to work on everything. We’re not going to announce everything walking up the stairs,” Vos said.

Fitzgerald, meanwhile, noted that Republicans in both houses have caucused separately on the budget, but “haven’t talked to each other.”

The legislative leaders said Evers put an emphasis on special education funding in their meeting, but were reticent to provide any further details.

“The conversations that we have are going to stay private, that’s what we all agreed to,” the Rochester Republican said.

Evers labeled this morning’s meeting as “productive” and listed criminal justice reform, education, and transportation as areas where “we have a lot of opportunity to make progress.”

“I look forward to continued conversation around ways we can find common ground,” he said.

But while Vos indicated that it was “too early to tell” if progress had been made at this morning’s meeting, he told reporters he believes that “in politics, it’s a mistake to have a grudge.”

“What am I doing tonight? I am having a fundraiser for Sen. Duey Stroebel because I am a believer that you have one session at a time,” he said

The Assembly Speaker had previously labeled Stroebel and other conservative GOP senators “terrorists” in 2017 as they issued last-minute demands before supporting the state budget.