Governor Evers Budget Plan Would Create Family Leave Plan, Cut Taxes and Boost School Funding

Framing the state’s historic surplus as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Gov. Tony Evers proposed a budget Tuesday that would spend the state’s reserves on a little bit of everything.

The governor’s budget proposal includes a new tax cut, a $2.6 billion investment in schools and a $244 million investment in a new paid family and medical leave program for private and public workers.

The list of major new initiatives from the governor went on, with hundreds of millions of dollars set aside for everything from roads, to lead pipe replacement, to the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium.

During his budget address Wednesday evening at the Capitol, Evers, a Democrat, called the plan a “breakthrough budget,” telling lawmakers that with the state’s projected $7.1 billion budget surplus, they had an obligation to address needs that had been long neglected.

But many of the governor’s proposals will almost assuredly be dead on arrival in the Legislature, where majority Republicans have already signaled they’ll toss Evers’ budget aside and build their own, as they did during Evers’ first term.

Shortly after Evers spoke, Republicans seized on the size of the budget. It would spend almost $104 billion overall thanks to a nearly 18 percent increase in the first year of the budget. And when it comes to state taxpayer funding — the part of the budget where lawmakers and governors have the most control — it would grow by 23 percent in the first year of the budget.

“While there are some areas in Governor Evers’ budget that I’m sure we will help to find common ground on, our solutions are going to look dramatically different,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters afterward.