Posted at 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Center Square News Service & The Brillion News
MADISON - Governor Tony Evers’ proposed 2021 spending plan would raise taxes by more than $1 billion, increase spending by nearly $8 billion, and reverse initiatives of Evers' predecessor, Republican Scott Walker.
Evers unveiled his proposal for Wisconsin’s 2021-2023 state budget on Tuesday, February 16.
It includes adding 363 new state government jobs and the legalization of marijuana.
[<< Photo of Gov. Evers]
Evers also proposed significant rollbacks of Act 10 and Right to Work, both considered accomplishments of the Walker years.
Republicans say Act 10 saved local communities and schools millions of dollars through lower benefit costs. Wisconsin’s Right to Work law prohibits labor unions in the state from collecting dues from nonunion employees.
“When I ran to be your governor, I said it was time for a change. And I told you then as I’ll tell you tonight — that change won’t happen without you,” Evers said during his speech.
The governor said he wants to spend $8 billion more on schools, on the environment, on job training, on rebuilding after the coronavirus, among other priorities.
Governor Evers is also proposing to spend more on the University of Wisconsin System.
His budget would raise taxes by $1 billion, and borrow $1.5 billion more. That would be in addition to any money Wisconsin gets from the federal government.
Republicans at the Capitol pronounced the governor's ideas dead on arrival.
“The Governor’s budget is completely irresponsible and unrealistic,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said. “Our responsible Republican budgeting allowed our state and our people to weather the 2020 storm and come out stronger. We’ll set Evers’ bad budget aside and continue to build on our strong foundation that put our state on strong fiscal footing over the decade.”
LeMahieu's district includes Hilbert, Rantoul, Maple Grove, Reedsville and Collins.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the governor budget is a political wish list.
“The spending plan contains far too many poison pills like expanding welfare, legalizing recreational marijuana, repealing Act 10 and growing the size of government,” Vos said.
Reaction to the governor’s budget proposal was as expected: Unions, education organizations, government agencies and businesses with government contracts praised it.
Republican lawmakers and conservative groups expressed opposition to it.