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Governor Evers Calls for Business Support, Justice Reform, and Climate Action in Budget Address

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Governor Tony Evers says his budget plan will help Wisconsin “Bounce Back” and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He laid out his $91 billion state budget in an address Tuesday night. Evers started his address by acknowledging the worry many Wisconsinites are facing.

“Well, tonight, Wisconsin, I want to tell you this: it’s going to be ok. We are going to be ok,” said Evers.

Evers laid out what he called his “Badger Bounceback” agenda to help the state recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

A main focus of that plan calls for investing $300 million into business and economic recovery.  

$200 million of that would go toward small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The rest would go towards a venture capital program.

“We have a long road ahead of us and our Main Street businesses need help now,” said Evers.

His budget also calls for hundreds of millions of dollars being investing in school’s kindergarten through college.

This includes $20 million for rural schools by fully funding sparsity aid.

“The reality is that our public schools from Kickapoo to Cashton have been doing much more with far less for far too long, and these investments will not only enhance direct support to some of our most vulnerable students, but provide schools with the budget flexibility to fund things like mental health services, keeping buses running, technology, and other critical needs,” said Evers.

The Governor also put a large focus on climate change. Evers says the effects of climate change have impacted every part of the state.

His budget calls for investing $30 million in flood mitigation. It would also put several million dollars into clean energy programs.

“We cannot afford to continue ignoring science and denying the reality of climate change in Wisconsin. I know we can deliver on the promise we make to our kids to leave them a better life and world than the one we inherited,” said Evers.

As part of his justice reform push, Evers called for an overhaul of the juvenile justice system. This includes the closing of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake which were supposed to close at the beginning of this year.

“At the crux of recovering from this pandemic and bouncing back is our willingness to stop pretending the problems we face don’t exist. We have to acknowledge our challenges if we’re going to have a chance at fixing them,” said Evers.

The Governor’s budget faces a tough road. It has to pass through the GOP-controlled legislature.

In response to his address, the Republican Party of Wisconsin released a statement saying, “Wisconsinites are still reeling from the impact of Gov. Tony Evers’ costly lockdowns. This is the worst possible time for a budget that grows government, hikes taxes and serves special interests and bureaucrats at the expense of hardworking families. Wisconsin families care about getting their kids back in school, helping businesses recover and restoring confidence in our elections -- not Gov. Evers’ liberal wish list that is out-of-touch with the actual struggles of Wisconsinites.”

The budget Evers released Tuesday does includes numerous liberal priorities that are certain to be rejected by the Republican-controlled Legislature. That includes expanding Medicaid, legalizing recreational marijuana and banning private gun sales.

The budget would raise taxes on manufacturers and the wealthy while cutting taxes for poor, working families.

Republicans will spend the next several months reworking the proposal before passing their own version this summer.

Despite the challenges, Evers says he has confidence.

“Over the last year, I’ve seen the heart and grit and resilience of the people of this great state,” said Evers. “I believe we can pass a budget with bipartisan support. I believe we can pass a budget that will make sure our state can bounce back and better than it was before this pandemic hit.”

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