Gov. Evers addresses mental health programs, relief efforts with budget surplus

The givernor discussed investments in infrastructure, child care, and mental health
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 2:53 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 9:51 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - Fresh off his Inaugural address two weeks ago, Gov. Tony Evers delivered his 2023 State of the State address from the Assembly chambers to the state legislature at 7 p.m.

Wisconsin is heading into the upcoming budget cycle with a record-high projected $6.6 billion budget surplus. Investments in infrastructure have also been a mainstay in Evers’ platform, more funding for roads and broadband access in rural areas.

In Gov. Evers’ fifth State of the State address, he announced he will be proposing additional support to make child care more affordable and accessible for working families and bolster child care providers statewide in his 2023-25 biennial budget proposal, including providing investments in the Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Stabilization Payment Program and the “Partner Up!” Program.

“If we want to address our state’s workforce challenges, we have to make sure child care is accessible and affordable. And together we will. So, the first thing I’m going to do is deliver on my promise to expand the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which will provide nearly $30 million in tax relief to more than 100,000 Wisconsinites,” said Gov. Evers.

He is proposing more than $340 million to provide a permanent investment in the Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Stabilization Payment Program and more than $22 million to support the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families’ “Partner Up!” Program. An additional $190 million in investments will be included in his 2023-35 executive budget proposal to bolster Wisconsin’s workforce, including the healthcare, education, and clean energy sectors, as well as his plan to continue investing in small business development across the state through the successful Main Street Bounceback Grant Program.

Senator Ron Johnson said, “With a historic revenue surplus, we owe it to communities across our state to invest in Wisconsin’s economic wellbeing through supporting current and aspiring business owners and ensuring affordable childcare access.”

“Our state has a AAA bond credit rating for the first time in about 40 years, which means we’re able to get lower interest rates and save your tax dollars. Our general fund and ‘rainy day fund’ both ended the last fiscal year at the highest levels ever in our state’s 175-year history,” added Gov. Evers.

Gov. Evers also announced that the “Kids Get Ahead” program will become a permanent state program and that $270 million will be invested to give students access to mental health services. He stated, “The state of mental health in Wisconsin is a quiet, burgeoning crisis that I believe will have catastrophic consequences for generations if we don’t treat it with the urgency it requires.”

Schofield Rep. Patrick Snyder did not feel as encouraging about the new funding, “His plans to address the workforce rely on far left policy objectives instead of embracing the simple solutions that have been on his desk for two years.”

Senator Patrick Testin said the governor missed the mark on the workforce and continues to ignore violent crime. “The government highlighted that through their Badger Bounceback grants that they’ve been able to help 8500 businesses here in the state, unfortunately, that pales in comparison to virtually every single business in the state of Wisconsin that was unilaterally shut down at the stroke of a pen.”

Sen. Testin also addressed the concern of violent crime in the state and mentioned that it was barely touched upon during Gov. Evers’ address. Fentanyl usage and overdoses, violent crimes such as carjackings and deaths are all real problems that impact not just places like Milwaukee but also the Northwoods.

He added that those factors are a major reason why both houses passed a constitutional amendment related to bail reform which will go to voters in April.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also offered a response and said, “I’m trying not to draw a bright line on any topic other than saying we are not going to grow the size of government … Pretty much everything he proposed today was a government expansion. So I would assume that most of those are DOA.”

ICYMI: Watch the full State of the State address below.