All eyes were on Gov. Tony Evers Thursday night as he gave his first budget address at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
Gov. Evers kicked off laying out the state’s $76 billion spending plan by calling it a budget for the people.
“This isn’t the Tony Evers budget, the Democratic budget, the Speaker’s budget, or the Republican budget; this is The People’s Budget. And it’s one that we crafted together,” said Gov. Evers.
Evers pressed issues brought to his attention during his listening session tour.
The governor announced funding to address water quality issues, the criminal justice system and homelessness; all issues in the budget Evers says, the legislature can find common ground.
“We simply cannot afford to play politics with this budget, folks the stakes are simply too high,” says Gov. Evers.
Ahead of Evers’ address, The Republican Party of Wisconsin called some of the governor’s budget proposals “concerning,” including his, “special treatment for illegal immigrants.”
The response by the GOP followed the announcement that undocumented immigrants will be eligible to receive driver’s licenses and IDs.
“It strikes me as an opportunity to really, it opens the door to significant waste, fraud and abuse that can happen as a result of that,” says Republican Chair of Wisconsin’s 3rd District, Brian Westrate.
A key topic on the campaign trail leading up to Evers’ election into office was the need to address Wisconsin’s transportation. Thursday night, Evers announced an 8 cent gas tax increase and removal of a 14 cent hidden tax.
“That means our plan actually makes it possible for you to pay less at the pump than you do right now,” says Gov. Evers, heading the largest biennial investment in transportation in Wisconsin state history.
In response, republicans say the fix won’t come with a stroke of a pen.
“This is a very complex nuance, conversation that’s going to need to be had with two stakeholders who are willing, I would hope would be willing to give and take,” says Westrate.
As the Democratic Governor addressed a GOP-controlled legislature, he ended his address by batting down remarks that the people of Wisconsin chose a divided government in November.
“They chose for us to find it within ourselves to be united, not in party, but in promise to serve our state and do what’s best for the people who went us here,” says Gov. Evers.
Governor Evers will take his budget case to the people of Wisconsin Friday including a stop in La Crosse to take part in the Read Across America day at Southern Bluffs Elementary School. Lt. Governor Barnes will be in Eau Claire at Sherman Elementary.