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Gov. Walker pleads with GOP lawmakers to pass $100 million school safety plan

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Gov. Scott Walker

MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker is now pleading with state lawmakers to pass his $100 million school safety plan that is in jeopardy in Madison.

In Onalaska, two hours from the state Capitol, Walker on Monday, March 19 delivered a blunt message to lawmakers as he seeks grants so school districts can add security and hire armed guards. But a stalemate has threatened his response to the February shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

"Let’s just take it up. Let’s just get it done. I don’t care what the format is," Walker told reporters.

Assembly Republicans will take up the plan as-is in a special session this week, and have scheduled a committee hearing for Tuesday morning. But Senate Republicans were drafting their own plan on Monday and had not made it public less than 24 hours before a planned vote in regular session.

Senator Alberta Darling

State Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, expects the plans to look very similar.

"Well, I can't say definitively, but when we talked last week, we were supporting the governor's initiative," Darling said.

Not only do both chambers have to pass identical bills, they have to both do it in one session. It is an unusual sticking point, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor Mordecai Lee said.

"It’s probably a mixture of personalities, ambition, stubbornness, seeking primacy," Lee said. "But I think we should respect that they have their reasons."

Democrats say the school safety plan does not go far enough since it does not include gun control.

State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said the impasse amounted to a battle of egos between Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

State Sen. Chris Larson

"It's a competition. A stupid competition between Fitzgerald, Vos and Walker," Larson said.

School safety is not the only issue the impasse is affecting. Republicans also do not agree on how to shut down Lincoln Hills youth prison or whether to create an August sales tax holiday as part of a plan to send $100 checks to families for every child at home.

Walker, who is running for a third term this year, has said Wisconsin lawmakers are better than in Washington, D.C., Monday, he warmed members of the Legislature not to become like Congress.

"We don’t want to be sitting a week from now scratching our head wondering why they couldn’t get it done," Walker said. That’s what happens in Washington. In Wisconsin, we get things done

Darling the Senate planned to finish its work on Tuesday and said the Assembly should come back into regular session this week to approve the Senate's versions of the school safety, Lincoln Hills, and child tax credit bills. Vos has said the Assembly will not return except for Walker's special session on school safety.

"Deadlines seem to get people to make decisions, which I’m looking forward to," Darling said.

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