MADISON, Wis. - Democratic Gov. Tony Evers plans to sit down with legislative Republicans in an unusual joint meeting with lawmakers from both the Assembly and Senate.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Thursday that the joint caucus will take place Tuesday. He says he expects it to begin as a private meeting so lawmakers can have a "real conversation" with Evers about their priorities.
The meeting comes after Assembly Republicans sent Evers a letter outlining areas where they thought they could work together. Vos said the letter avoids issues that he knows are going to be "divisive."
"We're going to have plenty of those fights over the next two years, but it certainly doesn't have to be in the first week," Vos said.
Evers has many of the same priorities, but supports different measures to achieve the goals. For example, he wants to cut income taxes by 10 percent. But he wants to pay for it by reducing a tax break for corporations, something Republicans oppose.
.@SpeakerVos says he believes Assembly Republicans can find common ground with @GovEvers on a number of issues, such as income tax reductions, enhancing high-speed internet, K-12 education and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. #news3 pic.twitter.com/9Bm07cKg2A— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) January 10, 2019
Evers' spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff says "actions speak louder than words" and the governor hopes Assembly Republicans will work with him to make progress on the identified issues.
Evers toured a Division of Motor Vehicles facility in Wausau on Thursday and plans to tour the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons Friday.
He responded to the letter from Assembly Republicans during the event in Wausau, saying, “I’m glad to see there’s some change of heart—tongue in cheek saying that—because many of the things that the speaker put in his letter have been kind of percolating around the Legislature for some time.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald previously hinted at the idea that Republicans might create their own state budget instead of using Evers'. Vos, however, said that is not his goal and something Republicans will decide after they see what Evers proposes.
Vos cited cutting income taxes, reducing transportation debt, increasing funding for public schools, reducing borrowing to pay for roads and expanding internet access as some areas where they can work together.
Republicans said the first bill they intend to pass is a state-level guarantee that people with pre-existing health conditions can't be denied insurance. An Assembly committee will hold a public hearing on the bill Tuesday.
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