MADISON, WI (WSAU) -- Governor Evers has signed the full budget into law with a few dozen line-item vetoes. "While this budget makes critical investments in areas that were included in The People’s Budget, this is a down payment on the progress we must make in the next biennial budget," said Gov. Evers.
"Vetoing this budget would have meant passing up the opportunity to provide investments in special education, the largest general school aid increase in a decade, increased revenue to fix our roads, and critical investments in broadband expansion, Wisconsin shares, child welfare, rural hospitals, and transit, among other important priorities. Evers added that when he ran for Governor he promised to put the will of the people first.
"That is why I am proud we were able to do as much as we did with the budget we were given. "This budget delivers on many of the important promises I made to the people of Wisconsin and makes progress toward fixing our roads, supporting schools, increasing funding for healthcare, and cutting taxes for working families."
Among the most noticeable impacts for residents will be a cut in their state tax bill. Average middle-class single filers will see a reduction of about $136 annually while married couples will see an average reduction of about $182. A record amount of money ($48 million) will go to the broadband expansion grant fund to help underserved areas get access to high-speed internet.
Transportation funding also gets a significant boost with $465 million earmarked for infrastructure projects including $320 million for the state highway rehabilitation program. The budget also makes significant investments in education with nearly $330 million in state aid and an increase in special education funding. High-cost transportation aid also went up by $1.6 million and will now reimburse rural districts up to 90% of those costs.
Evers signed the budget in a ceremony Wednesday morning at the Capitol, then released the list of 78 items that were vetoed. At the top of the list was a veto to the so-called "Tesla provision" which would have allowed the electric car manufacturer to bypass a dealership and sell their products directly to consumers. Evers said he objected to " significant changes to existing motor vehicle dealership law and the consumer protections they provide to Wisconsin occurring late in the state budget process and without the opportunity for adequate public input and debate."
That measure was added in the 11th hour as a means of enticing GOP Senator Chris Kapenga, who has worked on the vehicles and sold parts in his spare time. Kapenga had been on the fence but announced he would vote yes on the budget after the provision was added, but told the media that it wasn't a "deciding factor." Tesla has also pushed a direct-to-consumer model in other states. Among the other items changed were adjustments to per-pupil funding for education in both general and supplemental funds.
Evers also vetoed $75,000 in grants to Northcentral Technical College for workforce training in county jail facilities because he felt earmarking the money for one technical college district was burdensome, saying the money should be spread across the entire state.
Funding for a full-time position in the UWSP Paper Science program was also vetoed because Evers felt "the language which indicates that a position must be created as the position already exists. Instead, I am partially vetoing the section to make clear that a position must be maintained in the paper science program."
Evers also vetoed a measure that would have limited the amount of money the Department of Transportation could spend on security for Lieutenant Governor Mandala Barnes, calling the matter "politicly driven and meant to undermine the office of Lieutenant Governor."
He also vetoed $500,000 in spending for plans to upgrade the Cofrin Library at UWGB because a preliminary use study has not been completed, therefore he felt spending money for design plans was premature. In all, there were 33 pages of line-item vetoes and explanations from the Governor's desk. You can view the entire document for yourself here.
State Senator Tom Tiffany(R-Minocqua) issued a statement(7/3/2019) about the vetoes:
“Today, the Governor signed a carefully crafted state budget into law with very few vetoes.
However, the vetoes he included seem to target Northern Wisconsin particularly hard and makes it crystal clear this Governor only cares about Madison and Milwaukee.
“I am disappointed the so-called education Governor vetoed modest but meaningful funding for the Lakeland STAR School and Academy in Minocqua. This unique school is open to all students, but is focused on helping students on the Autism spectrum. I can’t understand why the Governor would cut their funding. The Governor’s veto to cut funding for FAB labs is also surprising. FAB labs have been a great asset for students – especially in rural Wisconsin – to gain access to STEM fields. Also, the Governor cut funding for Northcentral Technical College to provide worker training opportunities in county jails. The Governor says he wants to help offenders, but apparently not if they are from Northern Wisconsin. “
If it was not evident before, today’s vetoes make it abundantly clear the Governor is only interested in helping certain parts of the state and has no problem leaving rural and Northern Wisconsin behind.”