Governor, GOP Lawmakers Seek Common Ground but Rifts Remain

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Republican lawmakers vowed Tuesday to find common ground at the Capitol during a meeting that included GOP members from both the state Senate and Assembly.

The governor, a Democrat, championed accepting the federal Medicaid expansion during his campaign, arguing it would decrease health care costs across the state. Republicans have opposed the expansion for years, arguing it could come with unexpected and burdensome expenses for the state.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, however, remained opposed to expanding Medicaid, known as BadgerCare in Wisconsin, and said he urged Evers to find areas of agreement instead.

Eers and Republican lawmakers have spoken about finding possible compromise on an income tax cut for middle-income families and a potential gas tax increase to fund Wisconsin road projects. However, Tuesday’s meeting also outlined a difference in tax policy plans. Evers has considered limiting the scope of the state’s GOP-backed manufacturing and agriculture tax credit.

“When I asked the question about whether or not we would agree that we could not raise taxes on income or sales, (the governor) said, well it depends on how you define that,” Vos said. “I think most of us agree that taking away a credit which makes somebody’s taxes go up is a tax increase.”

While differences remained clear, there were some areas where the two sides seemed to align more closely, as when Fitzgerald lauded Evers for stepping away from his previous statements about shuttering the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

“He made the commitment that he would not touch WEDC in this budget,” Fitzgerald said. “I think that’s a huge victory.”