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Fox Valley Initiative using billboards to call out area lawmakers

NEENAH, WI (WTAQ) - Conservatives upset about the compromise plan on expanding private school vouchers are taking out their frustrations through billboards.

One billboard on Highway 41 in Winnebago County targets Senate President and Neenah Republican Mike Ellis. Another one in Brown County calls out Green Bay Republican Rob Cowles.

The Fox Valley Initiative is sponsoring the billboards calling on the senators to expand the number of children eligible for the school choice program. Under the current proposal in the state budget, 500 students could get vouchers in the first year and 1,000 students the next.

"Our view is those are three key individuals have who have tremendous impact over what happens with the school choice bill," Fox Valley Initiative's Ed Perkins tells FOX 11.

But it's how the message is being conveyed that is raising some eyebrows. The signs compare the senators to Egyptian pharaohs and urge the senators to take action. Ellis did not return our calls for comment and Cowles says the money to expand the program simply isn't there.

"I'll stand on my fiscally conservative principles over many years, and my efforts to control state spending, often alone. Maybe this group has abandoned their principles on controlling state spending,” said Cowles.

While the billboard has a religious theme to it, Perkins says the billboard isn't about religion or the money.

"There is a quality of education issue here that we are striving for and that's the one when you focus on dollars that gets overlooked," said Perkins.

An issue which Perkins says could benefit from some competition.

"I am an advocate for competition; it will force the public schools to do a better job."

Cowles says he will support the school voucher proposal in the state budget. As for the method used to get his attention?

"Freedom of speech, go ahead, that's what it's all about these days."

The Legislature is expected to vote on the issue in the next few weeks.

Perkins says the billboards will be up for about another week.