Governor starts in Stevens Point to sell his budget plan

By Jason Zimmerman, WBAY

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WBAY) - As members of the state legislature begin to pick apart Gov. Tony Evers' budget proposal, the governor traveled to Stevens Point Wednesday night for the first of many public listening sessions..

Gov. Tony Evers at a budget listening session in Sun Prairie on April 3, 2019 (WBAY photo)

With debate of the state budget now before the Committee on Joint Finance, which Republicans control, Governor Evers took his message to UW-Stevens Point.

The good news is that I think the budget -- and I believe you do, too -- are issues that will address issues that are important to the state of Wisconsin and actually accomplish some things."

The listening session is the first since the governor released his budget on February 28. Many who showed up had specific concerns.

"My concerns about the budget are about how the past number of years it's gone away from education and a lot of the other social concerns that I have," Mark Brueggeman from Nelsonville in Portage County said.

"Definitely concerned about water quality, ground water quality, surface water quality, things that affect our drinking water, lakes and rivers," Dick Stephens from Buena Vista in Portage County said.

The governor has proposed spending and additional $1.4 billion on schools and would cap enrollment on the state school voucher program. He would raise the gas tax by 8 cents a gallon to fund transportation. Plus, he would accept a federal expansion to Medicaid.

In a tweet, state Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), who co-chairs the budget committee, wrote, "The budget as proposed by Governor Evers' is irresponsible. @govevers budget creates a $2 billion structural deficit. Putting WI on an unsustainable path."

"I understand there's always going to be differences. I also understand that you need to huff and puff every once in a while to prove your political bonifieds. But at the end of the day, we as legislatures and policymakers in the state of Wisconsin have to come to agreement," the governor said.

Gov. Evers is planning to hold a lot more of these listening sessions, including one already scheduled in Kenosha next week.