Nearly a week after signing his first state biennial budget Gov. Tony Evers’ secretary-designees are touring the state talking up his plan. They believe the people’s budget contains much for Wisconsin voters to support.
Inside the Brown County Courthouse, members of Gov. Evers’ cabinet and Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford Taylor talk up his first budget since being elected.
“The input of citizens over this last several months has shaped the outcome and made a true difference in what we’re talking about here today,” said Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan.
Last week Evers signed an $82 billion budget into law after making 78 partial vetoes. Creating a budget that the state superintendent says increases K-12 education spending significantly.
“The total increase for school aids is almost $500 million,” said Superintendent Taylor.
Setting aside money for critical programs like special education and mental health, a problem one in five students are facing.
“We know that we have kids in schools dealing with depression and other mental health issues,” said Taylor.
As for transportation, $465 million in new funding, which Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson says ensures projects like the expansion of U.S. 41 between Appleton and Green Bay will happen.
“We have to go through a lot of the studies that have to be done and the preliminary engineering. But in a handful of years I believe work could begin on that,” said Thompson.
Yet in terms of healthcare, Gov. Evers’ budget didn’t include any federal money to expand Medicaid. But the Secretary of Health Services says the issue isn’t going away.
“That’s our money. It’s past time that we expand Medicaid and bring our tax dollars back home,” said Secretary Andrea Palm.
But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is upset Gov. Evers cut funding for implementation of work requirements for people receiving food stamps, to help pay for education.
In a statement the Republican says “Governor Evers seems intent on trapping people on welfare. Because of his partial vetoes, he’s starving programs that incentivize work, undermining their implementation and skirting the law.”