Promising to help Wisconsin “bounce back” from the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Tony Evers proposed a $91 billion state budget Tuesday, an ambitious plan that would boost overall spending by almost 10 percent, infuse hundreds of millions of dollars in Wisconsin schools and reinstate some of the union bargaining rights lost by public sector workers a decade ago.
The two-year budget, which would lay the foundation for Evers’ reelection should he seek a second term, includes a wide array of policies many Republicans who run the Legislature are likely to resist — from the legalization of recreational marijuana to the expansion of Medicaid.
The governor would pay for the spending increases in a number of ways, including limiting a tax credit for some manufacturers and increasing capital gains taxes on high-income individuals. Overall, the Evers administration said the budget would increase revenue by $1.6 billion. At the same time, taxes would be cut elsewhere by about $590 million for groups that include caregivers, parents and low-income residents.
Wisconsin, we aren’t going to retrace our steps back to the way things were,” Evers said during his Tuesday evening address. “We aren’t going to follow the map back to where we started when this pandemic began. After all we’ve been through, we aren’t going to apologize for wanting more for each other — for our neighbors, for our kids, our parents and grandparents, and our state’s future.”
Evers’ proposals need the approval of the Republican-controlled state Legislature to become law. During the last budget cycle — Evers’ first as governor — GOP lawmakers rejected major pieces of the governor’s proposal as too expensive and started from scratch with their own plan.
At the same time, there are provisions in the governor’s budget proposal this year that could be more difficult for Republicans to reject, from a $200 million investment in broadband to a $200 million fund aimed at helping businesses recover from the pandemic.