Republicans to kill legalized pot, other Evers priorities

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republicans plan to vote next week to kill key parts of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ state budget proposal, including legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, expanding Medicaid to capture $1.6 billion in federal funding and granting collective bargaining rights to public workers.

The move, announced Friday, is no surprise and follows what the GOP-controlled Legislature did two years ago to Evers’ first budget. Evers and Democrats have lobbied for his proposal to be taken up as written, saying it reflects what the people of the state want. Republicans decried it as a liberal wish list.

The Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee will vote Thursday on removing a 15-page list of nearly 300 items from the budget before they then work on rebuilding a two-year spending plan from scratch.

Other items Republicans intend to remove include freezing enrollment in the private school voucher program and allowing the University of Wisconsin System to borrow for operational expenses. That was a top priority of university officials, who said it was needed to deal with short-term losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Wisconsin Republicans are sending a clear message that they haven’t listened to a single word of what the public has told them this year,” said Democratic state Sen. Kelda Roys, of Madison.