MADISON, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) – Democratic Governor Tony Evers signed the budget, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last week, into law Wednesday morning.
Though some Democrats wanted to see the entire two-year spending plan rejected, the governor only used partial vetoes.
The package falls short of many of the governor's priorities and has most Republicans largely taking a victory lap.
Before signing the spending package, Gov. Evers highlighted the positives he sees in the budget, pointing out increases in funding for K-12 schools, more than $465 million in new funding for roads and a 10 percent middle-class tax cut.
The governor says Democrats were finally able to “move the needle” in the same Republican-controlled legislature Wisconsin has had for the last eight years.
“Vetoing this budget in its entirety would have been more of the same divisiveness and petty political theatrics that the people of Wisconsin have had to put up with for far too long,” Evers said.
Gov. Evers used his broad veto powers to scrap funding for a new adult prison to replace an existing one in Green Bay, took away money to prevent implementing new drug testing and work requirements for those on the food stamp program, and got rid of a provision that would have benefited electric car maker Tesla. Evers also increased funding for K-12 schools by $65 million.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says the governor basically passed the Republican spending plan.
“This is a good budget for the State of Wisconsin,” Fitzgerald said during a press conference following the budget being signed into law. “He [Evers] supported the Republican plan for building infrastructure and maintenance. The governor supported the Republican's proposal, proposed raise, for correctional officers. He supported the Republican increase in funding for state crime labs and treatment and diversion courts.”
Gov. Evers signed the budget into law with 78 partial vetoes, which Sen. Fitzgerald calls “minimal.”
No Democrat voted for the spending plan.
“The biggest lack of communication that existed during the budget process is between the governor and the legislators from his own party,” Sen. Fitzgerald said. “Many items supported by Republicans and signed into law by the governor today were opposed by Senate Democrats on the floor just last week.”
Though Gov. Evers calls the budget a “down payment” on progress, he still pointed out what he feels is a lack of power.
“The reason I am signing a budget that does not go far enough to fund our schools, fails to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, and leaves behind important priorities is because we have a comfortable Republican majority who consolidated power for themselves before I took office,” Evers said.
The governor now plans to make non-partisan redistricting a policy priority this fall.
Republicans don't have enough votes to override any of those 78 vetoes by the governor and Sen. Fitzgerald says he not sure if any effort to do so would even be pursued.
The spending plan signed by the governor Wednesday goes into effect immediately as the current budget year actually began on Monday.