Updated 5:40 p.m.
Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a Republican tax bill Wednesday. The bill, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last week, would have funded a middle-class income tax cut using surplus funds from the current state budget.
In his veto message, Evers says he rejected the bill because he objects to passing such a major fiscal item outside of the budget process, which begins in less than 10 days.
“As I have said, I support providing meaningful middle-class tax relief for hardworking Wisconsin individuals and families, and my budget priorities will reflect those intentions,” Evers said in the message. He added that his two-year budget will provide “significant tax relief for Wisconsin’s middle class.”
Evers is expected to release his budget on Feb. 28.
Republicans say Evers' veto of the bill shows that he's not interested in working with them. It appears the GOP doesn't have enough votes to override the veto.
Original Story 1:12 p.m.
With his state budget address approaching, Gov. Tony Evers sat down with Mike Gousha Tuesday to chat about what to expect in the spending plan. Gousha, a veteran news anchor, started off by asking the governor about education — a marquee issue for Evers.
"You talked in the campaign about a $1.4 billion increase on spending on K-12 education. Is that still the plan?" asked Gousha.
Evers, responded promptly, "Yes, that's still the plan."
The governor went on to say that he’s proposing an increase on special education, aid that Evers says has remained flat for at least a dozen years. When Gousha pushed for specifics, Evers confirmed that he's still standing by his $600 million promise.
Evers, a Democrat, also touched on a bill that is currently sitting on his desk: The GOP Income Tax Cut proposal. While he said he has yet to take action and is considering it, he did make critical comments about the bill.
"The bill itself has one fatal flaw: It's funded in a way that is not sustainable," said Evers.
The GOP proposal would use a current surplus to fund a middle-class tax break. Evers and other Democrats have questioned how the tax break would work once the surplus has been used up.
"What do you do two years from now? You take it from education? You take it from health care? Or you take it from someplace else?" questioned Evers. The governor has drafted up his own tax cut plan that would be funded by virtually eliminating tax credits for manufacturers.
At the Marquette appearance, he was asked about another item he'll address in his spending plan: roads. Evers reiterated how important addressing infrastructure is. He believes his promise to fix the roads was one of the reasons he got elected. But he also wanted to set the record straight on the gas tax.
"The good news is that there will not be a [dollar a gallon tax increase]," Evers stated firmly.
Evers did not just stick to local issues. He also brought up themes that are playing out at the national level such as criminal justice reform. He did so with a bit of humor, referring to a reality TV star’s push to get a woman out of prison.
"The joke is, if Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian at the federal level can help move this forward in a positive way, we the sure heck should be able to do that in Wisconsin," said Evers.
Evers emphatically stated the need to rethink the entire criminal justice system, touching on themes of rehabilitation. That's something that resonated with Danae Davis who was in the audience.
"I think the systemic and persistent elements to racism that are reflected in our approach to incarceration are at a crisis points and it sounds like he agrees. I'm excited to hear that he has that as one of his high priorities," said Davis.
Many of Evers proposals could run into strong opposition from the Republican controlled legislature. Some GOP lawmakers have even said they’ll reject his budget outright and build off of last year's base budget, instead.
Evers is expected to deliver his budget address on Feb. 28.