Can Democrats and Republicans Compromise on Governor Evers’ Budget Priorities?

When he unveiled his budget proposal Wednesday, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers offered up a long list of ideas for how to spend the state’s record surplus, telling lawmakers he was confident that some of his budget plans would win bipartisan support.

“I know the people in this building might not agree with me on the periphery of every policy all the time. That is democracy, right?” he told the crowd.

But that window for compromise seemed to close quickly. Immediately after his address, Republican leaders said they’d rewrite Evers’ budget from scratch.

“His priorities might be in line with where we are on the topics. But the solutions are what’s dramatically different,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.

One area where Republicans and Democrats might find common ground is on the issue of shared revenue for local communities.

Evers has made funding local governments a hallmark of his platform as governor and in his reelection campaign last year. Republicans pushed back on this until recently. They’ve started to signal support for funding certain local priorities, like law enforcement.

Evers and Republican leadership rarely met in Evers’ first term. After meeting for the first time in two years in December, Evers and Vos both expressed interest in talking more.

“Let’s start having a conversation,” Evers told reporters on Thursday. “Democracy, I think, kind of demands more than just saying, ‘Well, we don’t like it.'”