Gov. Evers signs state budget with one of largest tax cuts in state history
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Gov. Tony Evers has signed the $87 billion state budget passed by the legislature that includes a large tax cut for the middle class.
The governor made a number of stops across the state, starting with a visit to Cumberland Elementary School in Whitefish Bay where he signed the 2021-2023 spending plan, which includes a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class and $2 billion in tax relief.
The governor said his signing of this budget represents leadership.
“I made a promise when I ran for governor—I promised I would cut taxes for middle-class families by 10 percent. Today, I am keeping my word,” Gov. Evers said. “This morning, I’m providing more than $2 billion in tax relief and cutting taxes for middle-class families at a time when our economy and families need it most.”
The budget includes $685 million in school spending. Wisconsin will hit the mark of two-thirds funding for schools for the first time in 20 years.
The budget will allow the state to receive $100 million in federal funds for schools and children.
“The past year, we trusted the science and worked hard to put our state and economy in the best position to recover from the #COVID19 pandemic. Today, I’m signing the 2021-23 budget and using my broad constitutional authority to improve the budget that was sent to me,” Evers says. “This budget is possible because we worked to be a national leader in getting shots in arms and to stabilize our economy by getting help to folks who needed it. Now, we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and Wisconsin is bouncing back.”
Evers says failing to sign the Republican-authored budget would cost the state $2.3 billion in federal funding for schools.
The governor traveled to Green Bay to tout the budget at the University of Wisconsin’s Cofrin Library. The governor toured the aging building this year. The Joint Finance Committee approved $96 million in funding to replace the library. As Action 2 News previously reported, a feasibility study done in 2020 found renovation wouldn’t be cost effective.
A new building would be four to five stories tall and include a “new technology hub,” including Cofrin Library programs.
The governor was asked whether the county or the state will pay to replace a 911 tower on top of the existing building.
“We don’t know the answer to that right now. Considering this is a $96 million project and it’s going to take a couple years, we’ve got some time to figure that out.”
FOX RIVER BRIDGE
The governor vetoed language related to highway bridge construction in Brown County.
The language in the budget bill required the Department of Transportation to add an interchange at I-41 at Southbridge-French Rd. in De Pere. The interchange, just south of the Scheuring exit, was proposed as part of the project to add another bridge over the Fox River in the southern part of the county.
Evers said he vetoed the item because he believes it’s unnecessary since the DOT already included it in the scope of the bridge project and because engineers, not the Legislature, should be specifying its design.
Wisconsin Assembly Republicans criticized the governor for taking credit for the tax cut. They say it is Republicans who should get the credit.
“Governor Tony Evers deserves NO credit for signing our budget. This was not a bipartisan process of colleagues sharing ideas. He got boxed into a corner and rather than fight for his unpopular budget and risk a political knockout, he and his team threw in the towel and signed our responsible budget,” said Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg).
“The taxpayers of Wisconsin should be celebrating the fact that today Governor Evers has done an about-face on his plan to raise taxes by more than a billion dollars and instead signed a Republican spending plan that delivers significant tax relief,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna). “At a time when our state is receiving billions in COVID-related support, the idea of hiking taxes on Wisconsin families as our governor and his allies had proposed is simply ridiculous.”
“Gov. Evers’ signature of our budget is a surrender of his liberal wish list to the fiscal responsibility the Fox Valley demanded,” Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) said at a news conference in Kaukauna called by Republican lawmakers. “He gets zero credit for anything other than realizing that pleasing big government Madison would run him out of the Capitol.”
Evers turned the criticism around on Republicans, saying that lawmakers had that money to spend thanks to his management during the pandemic that bolstered the state’s economy. The governor said the Legislature didn’t convene during most of 2020 to address the pandemic, and he accepted federal money when Republican lawmakers told Congress not to send it.
Wisconsin’s governor has broad veto powers allowing him to cut certain parts of the budget.
CLICK HERE to view the governor’s vetoes.
“While it’s unfortunate to see the governor issue more than 50 partial vetoes of a budget that both Republicans and Democrats voted for, this is still a strong budget for Wisconsin,” said Steineke. “I’m proud that we were able to turn the governor’s tax hike into a reduction and delivers a budget that works for all of Wisconsin.”
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