Republicans scrap Evers’ priorities, start writing new budget

Madison Wisconsin - Capitol Building
Madison Wisconsin - Capitol Building(WEAU)
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 11:40 AM CDT|Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 8:32 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Hundreds of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ priorities, including legalizing marijuana, raising $1 billion in taxes and expanding collective bargaining rights, have been killed by the Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee.

Lawmakers are taking their first votes Thursday in writing the next state budget.

Republicans essentially scrapped the Democratic governor’s entire two-year proposal. They instead are building off the current budget.

The Joint Finance Committee voted to remove nearly 400 of Evers’ proposals.

This includes proposals to legalize marijuana, and raise the minimum wage.

“I can’t get away from the fact that he proposed about a ten percent increase in state spending coming out of a very difficult year, and it’s just not something that we could support. That, along with massive tax increases just made his budget unworkable,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke.

Rep. Lee Snodgrass, a Democrat from Appleton countered, “I mean honestly, they’re not listening to what the people of Wisconsin want. I mean they have stripped so much from that budget, I think the fact that they stripped out the Medicaid expansion was first and foremost one of the worst things. We know now that would bring Wisconsin an additional 1.6 billion dollars.”

Evers, in a Thursday letter to Republican leaders, called gutting his budget “ill-advised.” Republicans say they are also eyeing a tax cut.

Republicans told business leaders they are also eyeing a tax cut.

Gov. Evers issued a statement calling on people to call their state lawmakers. “We simply cannot afford for politics to get in the way of making sure we can recover and bounce back from this pandemic. Republicans have obstructed our ability to beat this virus every step of the way, and now they’re playing politics with our economic recovery,” Evers wrote in the statement, saying his budget was based on input from thousands of Wisconsin residents who attended 10 listening sessions around the state.

Outside the committee hearing, dozens of people rallied, demanding lawmakers keep a proposal in the budget that will restore access to drivers licenses and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, which the Walker administration, previously cut.

Republicans say both items, should be debated as separate bills.

The Legislature will likely vote on the budget sometime in June.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. WBAY contributed to this report. All rights reserved.