We asked a number of members of the state legislature to call our new RightWisconsin Hotline to give their reaction to Governor Tony Evers’ first State of the State speech after it was over. Judging from the messages we received, Republicans are willing to work with Evers on some items. However, they’re not going to go along with large increases in state spending and raising taxes on manufacturers and farmers to pay for it. Republican legislators also don’t have the governor’s negative view of the current “state of the state.”

Below are some excerpts from their reactions and the audio from the messages the legislators left on our Hotline.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna): “Overall, I was a little disappointed in some of the tone from from Governor Evers. While he spoke about bipartisanship and working together on things, he included things in his speech that he knows they’re going to be non-starters for Republicans. Namely, building his entire budget off of expanding government-run healthcare and tax increases on farmers and manufacturers. So I think that’s that’s going to be a significant road block as we head into the budget season. What are the other things that I was concerned about was his directive to the attorney general to withdraw from the Affordable Care Act lawsuit. That’s problematic because the attorney general cannot do that without the consent of the legislature. So unless he is planning on coming to the legislature, Governor Evers does not have the authority on his own to direct the Attorney General to withdraw from that lawsuit.”

“…I think it painted a pretty dire picture of where Wisconsin is at now which I think is in direct contrast to where most people know that it is with our low unemployment rate, the number of jobs having been created over the last few years, continually reducing taxes and seeing new revenues come into the state coffers.”


Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills): “I think that Governor Evers has put forward ideas that we could support but what we can’t support is raising taxes or expanding Medicaid and we’re not going to backpedal on our reforms that we worked so hard to achieve.”

“…We agree with investing in education, but he has an investment in mind that’s two-thirds. I think that’s doable, but his $1.3 billion is I don’t think in the cards.”


Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva): “Just this week we passed legislation guaranteeing health care for those with pre-existing conditions. We also proposed a middle class tax cut which would return the budget surplus to the taxpayers without raising taxes unnecessarily. I call on Governor Evers to support both of these common-sense proposals.”


Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha): “I’m not quite sure what Wisconsin he’s looking at. It felt a little like he threw a wet blanket on the state of Wisconsin tonight.”


Sen. David Craig (R-Big Bend): “Governor Evers’ speech hearkened back to the same tax-and-spend liberal policies that resulted in massive budget deficits stagnant economic growth and a loss of jobs. We can’t afford to go back to economic policies that increase taxes, fuel a more bloated bureaucracy and drive businesses out of the state just to pay back Governor Evers’ liberal Madison base.”


Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield): “I think it’s interesting that a significant portion of his speech was about I’m going to give you this and give you this and do this for you and he never talked about the other side of that where, in order to give you this, I’m going to have to take from these people. And that was a little bit frustrating to sit there and hear.”


Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield): “I have significant concern that the governor laid out a plan tonight to spend billions more than we had, and at the same time increasing the power of the state and decreasing the flexibility and solvency of Wisconsin families and businesses.”


Sen. Howard Marklein (R – Spring Green): “I am concerned that the governor did not mention much about rural issues, rural economic development, and just rural issues in general. Sounded like a lot of his concerns were oriented to the urban centers of the state and I’m a little concerned he didn’t mention any of the challenges facing real issues during his state of the state speech.”


Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin): “I’m not entirely sure that he realizes he’s the governor of Wisconsin and not Illinois based on all the problems he pointed out. Hopefully somebody in his administration will alert him to that fact.”


Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond Du Lac): “He seemed to have a focus on words of bipartisanship, but it seemed to also be that those were pretty much just words. Because he said bipartisanship quite a bit but he didn’t really bring forward anything that actually was bipartisan. In fact, he has rejected any bipartisan offer the Republicans have made to him to this point. And some of that was evident in the speech when he rejected our support for a middle class tax cut and also has signaled that he’s going to reject the pre-existing conditions bill that we passed today with vast bipartisan support.”

“…I agree with the governor that there should be more funding going towards special education and towards mental health in our schools, but I don’t agree that we should be spending a vast amount of money. Six hundred million dollars is most certainly not going to happen. But other than that a modest increase in education to keep up with the cost of inflation would be about all I would support. I think the governor needs to remember, and he knows this, that the two keys to education are good teachers and letting them teach and responsible parenting. If we focus on those two things we’re going to go a long ways toward improving education in our state. It is not about how much money we spend.”


Rep. Tyler Vorpagel (R – Plymouth): “…the time for politics is over and a good place to start is supporting a middle class tax cut that doesn’t raise taxes on other Wisconsinites.”


Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua): “We put reforms in that are tested and true and we are seeing the results of that. We ended the last budget with a surplus of over five hundred million dollars. We want to return that to the taxpayers. Governor Evers is already talking about, let’s just spend it here in Madison. We should return that to the taxpayers.”


Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg): “While he didn’t go into much detail, the broad strokes of his agenda are clear and taxpayers and Wisconsin businesses should be concerned Governor Evers minimized or ignored our historic reforms that have led to 3 percent unemployment and the highest investment in K-12 education in real dollars in State history. Governor Evers made clear that he believes we need to grow state government. A belief I simply do not share.”