By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers planned to call on the Republican-controlled Legislature Tuesday to join him in passing a two-year budget he is presenting as a “bounce back” plan to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Evers, a Democrat, released excerpts from his speech before he was to deliver it in a prerecorded message to the Legislature on Tuesday evening.
Evers planned to pitch his two-year state budget to the Legislature as a “Badger Bounceback” agenda as the coronavirus pandemic enters its second year.
“I believe we can pass a budget with bipartisan support,” Evers said in the excerpts. “I believe we can pass a budget that will make sure our state can bounce back and better than it was before this pandemic hit. I believe we can pass a budget that will finally realize the future we’ve dreamed. I know that Legislature and I can get this done.”
Evers has already released several parts of his two-year spending plan, including calls to legalize marijuana, allow local governments to raise the sales tax to lessen the reliance on property taxes, create a $100 million venture capital fund, expand Medicaid and make prescription drugs more affordable.
The Evers budget is a starting point for Republicans who will now rewrite the plan over the next several months before passing its own version later this summer.
This is the second budget that Evers has delivered to a Republican-controlled Legislature. Two years ago nearly all of Evers’ proposed policy changes were removed before the Legislature passed a budget plan with nearly unanimous opposition from Democrats. Evers signed it anyway, after making numerous vetoes.
Evers said in speech excerpts that people remained worried about the pandemic and “whether we will claw out of this crisis, where we can go from here, how we get back on track, and what’s next.”
Evers promised that his budget would offer a blueprint for making health care more accessible, fully funding public schools, supporting rural communities and small businesses and protecting the state’s natural resources.