Gov. Tony Evers met with University of Wisconsin-Madison College Democrats on Tuesday evening at Colectivo Coffee on State Street to talk about his policies and hopes for the upcoming Nov. 8 gubernatorial election.
During his visit, Evers delivered a short speech emphasizing the importance of voting and covering salient topics in the upcoming election, including school funding, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, abortion rights and marijuana legalization.
The Democratic governor emphasized his positions on public school funding first. He noted his administration spent “hundreds of millions of dollars providing help for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and all of the other campuses” and $25 million for mental health resources following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evers then compared his funding initiatives to Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels’ prior statements on school funding.
“I’m not sure my opponent feels quite that friendly towards the University of Wisconsin,” Evers said. “In fact, at one point … somebody asked him about increasing funding for public schools, and he said ‘That’s the definition of insanity.’”
Evers also addressed the Republican-controlled State Senate’s refusal to approve his UW Board of Regents nominations. Of the 11 members Evers appointed since taking office, nine have yet to be formally approved by the Senate and could be removed if Evers loses the gubernatorial election in November.
“If we don’t win this race, it will change the face of the University of Wisconsin System,” Evers told the crowd of students. “Most importantly, your lives as students wanting to be at a top-class, world-class university, will change.”
While speaking about reproductive rights, Evers expressed his disappointment in Wisconsin’s 1849 near-total ban on abortion, which was reinstated after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. He called the ban “barbaric.”
“The women in this room were made second-class citizens overnight,” he added.
Both Evers and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit earlier this year to overturn Wisconsin’s abortion ban. Again, he contrasted his stance to that of Michels, who previously supported the ban.
Further, Evers supported legalizing marijuana use in Wisconsin during his speech. Legalized marijuana is favored by 69% of Wisconsinites, according to a Marquette Law School poll from August.
“We have to make sure that the current use of marijuana is not something that gets you into the criminal justice system,” Evers said.
He also looked beyond justice system issues to point out potential economic benefits from legal marijuana dispensary sales in Wisconsin.
“When you think about the revenue of that, the state of Wisconsin is passing up on the revenue,” Evers noted. “In Illinois, the Governor told me that those municipalities that have a dispensary have been able to not double, but triple their revenue for their communities.”
Before closing his speech, Evers emphasized the importance of voting by reminding the crowd he won the last gubernatorial election by fewer than 30,000 votes.
“Please get out and vote, please get your friends and neighbors to get out and vote,” Evers said.