Governor Tony Evers outlined his vision for the state today before a group of business and non-profit leaders at the University Club.
The governor, speaking at the annual meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, detailed a vision for the state centered around education, criminal justice reform, transportation policy and healthcare funding. He also took a number of questions from the audience, including on Foxconn, voucher schools and Wisconsin’s Latino community.
“This is a pro-business administration that cares about the people of Wisconsin,” said Evers, putting a twist on former Governor Scott Walker‘s “open for business” tagline.
But a pro-business attitude from Evers won’t immediately translate into harmony with the Republican-controlled legislature. “At the end of this going to be an incredibly complex budget,” Evers predicted.
Evers will introduce his proposed budget in the coming weeks, likely with plenty of policy-related measures embedded within, something that is common with Wisconsin’s biennial budgeting process. Republicans in the legislature will then begin reviewing the document, which Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has already indicated could involve throwing the whole thing out and starting over.
But Evers is optimistic that “common ground” can be found on a number of issues. “At the end of the day I think that there is more that unites us than divides us,” he said.
One thing Evers is certain to introduce in his budget is accepting the federal Medicaid funding. “We need that money to expand healthcare in Wisconsin,” said the governor. He told the audience that Walker and the legislature’s failure to accept the funding has cost Wisconsin taxpayers more than $1 billion.
The budget is also likely to increase for education funding. “Moms that are Republican want their kids to have public schools just as much as Moms that are Democrats,” said the former school principal. Drawing a few laughs, Evers told the audience: “for the first time ever, [Republican Assembly Speaker] Robin Vos has agreed with me, two-thirds funding is important.” Both Walker and Evers pledged during the campaign to fund two-thirds of all education costs, which would reduce the portion coming from local property taxes.
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