Governor Tony Evers delivered a virtual budget address to the state legislature on Tuesday that was sharply criticized by Republican leaders as irresponsible. In the budget proposal, Evers includes a partial repeal of Act 10, legalization of marijuana, and over $1 billion in new taxes.
The governor’s budget is largely seen as a liberal wish list rather than a serious proposal. Republicans, who control both houses of the legislature by comfortable margins, will likely reject the governor’s budget and write their own version just like they did two years ago.
“The governor’s budget is completely irresponsible and unrealistic. It’s reckless with tax dollars and loaded with divisive policies that move our state backward,” said Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg). “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.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) agreed that there were too many flaws in the budget proposal.
“Instead of priorities to move the state forward, the governor’s budget proposal is more of a political document to fill the wish lists of his own party,” said Vos. “The spending plan contains far too many poison pills like expanding welfare, legalizing recreational marijuana, repealing Act 10 and growing the size of government.”
While Republican criticisms of Evers focused mainly on policy differences, Evers’ budget address took his differences with the legislature to a personal level. Answering his own question of whether he could work with the legislature to accomplish his goals, Evers went on the attack instead, directly addressing his comments to the legislators gathered to watch the governor’s video presentation.
“There’s no time for false promises of hope and prosperity with empty words that you know full well won’t match your actions. You can disagree with me if you want, but don’t punish the people we serve so you can settle a score no one but you is keeping,” Evers said. “Each time a bill fails to pass, each time a compromise ends up in flames, each time legislators lose sight of the people who sent you here, the disappointment, the resentment, and the disparities grow. We must be unafraid to agree, unwilling to wait, and unabashed about the work we have before us.”