MADISON, Wis. — From signing a budget with bipartisan support to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said the credit for the last year's accomplishments goes to the strength and resiliency of Wisconsinites.
Watch Spectrum News 1 Political Reporter Anthony DaBruzzi's one-on-one conversation with the governor about the biggest challenges and accomplishments of 2021 above.
“Clearly for me, we called on Wisconsinites to understand that broadband is an important thing for our state,” Gov Evers said. “The year of the broadband I declared it for 2021. And as a result of lots of efforts on the state's part and federal money part, we've been able to increase the number of households in the state of Wisconsin by 300,000 households. In addition, I feel pretty good about the fact that you know, I ran on the idea that we lower income taxes in the state of Wisconsin, and we did by 15%. We've also, you know, made sure that fixing our darn roads was a top priority. And this last year, we're finishing up with about 1,700 miles of roads.”
Earlier this year, Gov. Evers directed $100 million in federal coronavirus funding to be used toward broadband expansion grants. The investment was on top of $200 million in broadband expansion which Evers' included in his state budget proposal. The Republican-controlled budget committee, however, approved $75 million less in funding than the governor had proposed.
“Well, I did,” Gov. Evers said. “I suppose there would have been ways for us to figure out different ways to get money to public schools. But the fact of the matter is, I ran on the notion of reducing income taxes in the state. And so I signed that bill, and we were able to make a 15% cut over my time as governor. This is a win for the people of Wisconsin. It's not a win for the Republicans or the Democrats. It's a win. People expect us to do things, and, occasionally, we actually do things together.”
In July, Gov. Evers signed the Republican-authored state budget into law with 50 partial vetoes. The two-year spending plan included a $2 billion income tax cut. Both the governor and Republicans who passed the spending bill took credit for the tax cut, which was made possible by a revenue surplus.
Though Republican lawmakers added the tax cut to the spending plan, Evers has called it a bipartisan effort and said he could have vetoed it had he not made a promise to Wisconsin taxpayers.
“Those efforts to incentivize that, I think worked fine, but at the end of the day, we've always known what works, and that is get a shot,” Gov. Evers said. “We've always known as a state that our response has to be around, you know, making sure there [are] enough vaccines, making sure there's enough testing equipment, contact tracing and those types of things. So you know, we could have done two cream puffs, we could have done more money. We will continue to encourage people to do the right thing because those decisions do become life and death decisions.”
From free cream puffs at the state fair to $100 gift cards, Gov. Evers has made several efforts to encourage Wisconsinites to get vaccinated against coronavirus. Between Aug. 20 and Sept. 1, which was the original length of the incentive program that was eventually extended, more than 65,000 people received their first dose.
Both incentive programs came when Wisconsin experienced a spike in COVID-19 infections from the delta variant.
To see more from Anthony's one-on-one conversation with the governor, including a look at Wisconsin's redistricting maps, click here.