Did Robin Vos threaten state education funding due to Underly win?

    Speaker Robin Vos at a virtual press conference on March 25, 2020
    Speaker Robin Vos at a virtual press conference on March 25, 2020

    Speaker Robin Vos caused a stir on his @repvos Twitter account (he has a separate speaker account on Twitter) after Jill Underly won the race to become the next state superintendent.

    The Democratic Party of Wisconsin supported Underly with significant resources while her opponent Deborah Kerr was backed by Republicans including former Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Alberta Darling and Betsy Devos’ American Federation for Children, as well as other private school voucher advocates.  

    Responding to an election summary from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice, Vos accused the new head of the Department of Public Instruction and the state agency she will lead of being against parents, students and taxpayers — saying the teacher’s union owns DPI.

    “Correctly stated that the teachers union owns the DPI; not the parents or the students or the taxpayers.  Count me as someone who isn’t going to support putting another nickel into this unaccountable state bureaucracy,” Vos tweeted. 

    His funding threat to DPI came the same day that the Joint Finance Committee began its work on the state budget.

    Vos was challenged by a Twitter user from Janesville who asked him, “Why is it ok to defund the schools and not ok to defund the police?”

    And Vos — who generally ignores the many people who challenge or troll him on Twitter responded:  “I didn’t say defund schools,  I said no more money for Madison bureaucrats who only answer to the teachers union…” (Note: typos corrected by Examiner.)

    He also retweeted the right-wing group Empower Wisconsin stating: Dems and liberal groups buy another DPI superintendent victory. AP calls race for Jill Underly, WEAC-backed candidate with over 60% of the vote in. The Wisconsin Democratic Party pumped $900,000 into Underly’s ‘non-partisan’ campaign.”

    Judging from dozens of respondents on Twitter, his posts were taken to be anti-education, and possibly a little bitter.

    “Robin Vos is sore that his preferred candidate didn’t win the race for State Superintendent and now he says he’s going to take it out on Wisconsin children. 

    “Get over it @repvos, and work with @underlyforwi to deliver quality public education for all our kids,” tweeted A Better Wisconsin Together, a progressive group that backed Underly. 

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    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.