Gov. Evers delivers first budget address

By Dakota Sherek, WJFW

MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers (D - Wisconsin) gave his first budget address Thursday night. He made some major proposals, but for many Republicans, who control both the assembly and senate, they were not bipartisan enough. Now the question is if the governor and state legislators will be able to compromise. 

"We cannot afford to play politics with this budget," said Evers. "Folks the stakes are
really, really high."

Evers emphasized the importance of bipartisanship, and putting the needs of the people of Wisconsin first, throughout his budget address.

"This isn't the Tony Evers budget, the Democratic budget, the Speaker's budget, or the Republican budget, this is the people's budget," said Evers. "And it's one that we crafted together."
Prior to the address, Evers spent time talking to people around the state about what they would like to see in the budget. But ultimately, Republicans were not quite as enthusiastic about his ideas.

"The fact of the matter is somebody has to be the adult in the room and bring this budget back down to earth," said Rep. Rob Swearingen (R - Rhinelander).

"I mean he's putting a lot of money into it, and it's going to blow a hole in the budget," said Sen. Tom Tiffany (R - Hazelhurst). 
One of Evers' priciest ideas was on how to fix Wisconsin's roads.

"Tonight, I'm proposing the largest biennial investment in transportation in Wisconsin state history," said Evers. 

The governor proposed raising $600 million of revenue for road funding, in part by raising the gas tax and repealing a "minimum markup" law. That law that requires a markup of the per-gallon wholesale price to help smaller retailers compete with big chains

"If it's an eight cent a gallon tax increase we're going to see hundreds of millions of dollars go once again to southeastern Wisconsin, and we're going to get peanuts in Northern Wisconsin," said Tiffany. "That's something I'm really going to fight hard on."

But Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) says it's time to start giving the tax payers what they need.

"I think when we pay taxes we expect that money to go to public funds like our roads and schools, and making sure that everyone has a chance to succeed and that's exactly where this money should go," said Shankland. 

The assembly floor seemed divided throughout most of the budget. Though some ideas, like expanding broadband to everyone by 2025, went over well with Republicans. Republican legislators say it's just a matter of how much to spend on those ideas. 
Over the next few months, the joint finance committee will begin work on drafting a budget.