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Poll shows strong support for Evers’ priorities

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — In a sign of how difficult it will to reach a deal on road funding, 52 percent of the respondents to the latest Marquette University Law School pool said they don’t support raising gas taxes or fees for that purpose.

Gov. Tony Evers has said he’s open to such a proposal, but he has yet to put forward a plan. Republicans disagreed among themselves last session about whether to raise taxes and fees and ultimately put off a long-term proposal by deciding to borrow more money instead.

The same poll, released on Thursday, meanwhile suggested there is strong support for many of Evers’ other top priorities, even though the Republicans who control the Legislature are opposed to nearly all of them.

The Marquette University Law School poll is the first to come out since Evers won election in November. It was released two days after his first State of the State speech and about a month before he will put forward his first state budget, which will include the bulk of his proposals for the next two years.

The poll showed that a majority of the respondents want Wisconsin to accept the federal Affordable Care Act’s offer to provide federal Medicaid benefits to more people, to increase the minimum wage and public-school funding and to take a nonpartisan approach to drawing the state’s electoral maps. There is also majority support for withdrawing Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act and for legalizing recreational marijuana.

Evers has voiced support for all of those ideas.

Evers’ spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, said the poll results show the people “overwhelmingly agree” with the governor on the issues.

The poll of 800 registered voters was conducted between Jan. 16 and Sunday and had an error rate of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

The poll was taken in Evers’ second week in office and more than a third of the respondents — 38 percent — had no opinion of the job he’s doing. Thirty-nine percent approved of his job performance and 22 percent disapproved.

The numbers for the Republican-controlled Legislature were better. Fifty-two percent of the respondents approved of the job lawmakers are doing and 31 percent disapproved. The pollster Charles Franklin called the results surprising, given other poll numbers that showed 55 percent disapproval of the lame-duck session that Republicans called last month to restrict the power of the incoming governor and attorney general.

The poll found that 46 percent of the respondents don’t think Republican legislative leaders are cooperating with Evers, and 47 percent think Evers is trying to work with them.

On the issues:

  •  72 percent said they support nonpartisan redistricting for legislative seats, and just 18 percent support the current system, in which the Legislature draws the maps for the governor to approve. Evers and legislative Democrats also want nonpartisan redistricting, but Republicans do not. The next round of redistricting will occur in 2021.
  • 62 percent said they support accepting federal money to offer Medicaid to about 76,000 more poor people in Wisconsin, a proposal Evers favors but Republicans are strongly opposed to.
  • 55 percent support raising the minimum wage. Evers has said he will provide a “pathway” for that in his budget, but Republicans don’t support increasing it.
  • 59 percent support legalizing marijuana. Evers has said he will propose a “first step ” toward legalizing medical marijuana, but also supports full legalization. Republicans are generally opposed to full legalization, although some have said they could back limited uses for medical purposes.
  • 48 percent want Wisconsin to withdraw from a multi-state lawsuit seeking the repeal of the federal health care law. Evers wants Wisconsin out of it, but a law passed during the recent lame-duck session gives Republican lawmakers that power instead of the governor.
  • 55 percent would prefer to increase spending on K-12 public schools, but 39 percent said they would rather reduce property taxes. Both Republicans and Democrats have said they want to increase funding, but they disagree by how much.

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