State News

GOP disdain for Evers’ budget proposal highlights discomfort toward split government

GOP leaders responded to Gov. Tony Evers State of the Budget Address with concerns that the budget would diminish the well-being of the state.

Image By: Will Husted

Gov. Tony Evers presented his State of the Budget Address to the first split government Wisconsin has seen in 10 years from the Madison Capitol Assembly Chamber Thursday evening. 

Despite GOP warnings against “poison pill” proposals, Gov. Evers moved forward with the issues he has stood behind since taking his oath of office –– two-thirds funding of public schools, clean drinking water and redistricting.

Gov. Evers characterized his budget as “the people’s” budget, referencing his intention to continue to “connect the dots,” as he mentioned during the State of the State Address

There was rarely a moment in which both parties applauded points of Gov. Evers’ budget. This general tone of disagreement and discontent flowed into the Republican response immediately following the address.

Assembly Majority Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, banged down the gavel and walked out of the Assembly Chamber upon the conclusion of the Governor’s address. 

“Thank god we are out of here,” Vos said in closing.  

Vos, joined by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, voiced strong dissatisfaction toward the proposed budget. This included a primary concern of what the leaders believe to be a budget that overspends.

“This is a budget that’s based on somebody who spent too much time in Madison – that's the problem – he has spent time in a liberal bubble thinking that this is what the people of Wisconsin want,” Vos said.

GOP leaders emphasized their belief that Gov. Evers’ proposals have the potential to threaten past policies they understand to be successes in favor of appealing to the Democratic Party. 

“So I understand why he wants to look like he's doing something, but the lucky thing is, the Republican legislature already has,” Vos explained. “But, there are so many things on this liberal wish list, it’s hard to sort what is a real priority and what is nothing more than something aiming at people who attend the Democratic National Convention.”


Some of Gov. Evers’ proposals seemed to intentionally encourage bipartisanship however, including the GOP’s priority to increase high-speed internet access, accept GOP-led recommendations to pursue the Interagency Council on Homelessness and various aspects of criminal justice.

“And at times, we’ve let power be the enemy of the good. So, tonight, I want to be clear: this cannot be one of those times. We cannot afford to play politics with this budget. Folks, the stakes are simply too high,” Gov. Evers said. 

Regardless, the division between the right and left of the room was evident throughout the entirety of the address. 

Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison felt that the lack of interest among the Republican Party was unprecedented. While she admits the validity of their disagreements, she hoped to see Republicans stand up to acknowledge Gov. Evers’ sentiments about working together. 

In contrast, Democratic members remained on their feet for a majority of the address. 

Gov. Evers announced several new installations of his proposed budget prompting excitement ranging from vocal support, applause and the intermittent “yes!” from Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee. 

These policies included his intention to increase the gas tax by eight cents to fund infrastructure improvements, automatic voter registration and decreasing the juvenile sentencing age.

The GOP did not respond well to Gov. Evers more liberal leaning agenda goals, believing they disregarded any intentions of finding common ground. 

“When people say, ‘oh you're abandoning or you're not working with the Governor,’ there was a complete disregard this evening for whether or not we could get the ball through momentum to actually get a budget done in this fashion. I mean, it's been completely thrown out the window at this point,” Fitzgerald said. “It's not going to happen.” 

Gov. Evers did not address potential middle-class tax cuts he has proposed in the past few weeks, nor the tax cut bill passed through both houses by Republicans last week. 

The budget will now go to the Republican-held Joint Committee on Finance to be voted on. GOP leaders stated there will be a rewrite of the entire proposal. 

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