Wisconsin’s state budget heads to Evers, but will he sign it? Republicans say he should

Wisconsin’s state budget heads to Evers, but will he sign it? Republicans say he should
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The state’s two-year spending plan is headed to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ desk now after clearing both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature this week.

Evers has the option to sign the budget, veto it or use his line-item veto power to make changes to the document. But the governor said he won’t say what he’ll do until he sees the plan state lawmakers passed.

The Senate narrowly approved the plan Wednesday afternoon 17-16 with all Democrats and two Republicans voting against it.

Evers tweeted shortly after the Senate passed the plan, saying “I’ve said all along that the will of the people is the law of the land, and that’s what will be on my mind as I review the Legislature’s changes to our budget.”

I’ve said all along that the will of the people is the law of the land, and that’s what will be on my mind as I review the Legislature’s changes to our budget.

— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) June 26, 2019

Republicans amended the budget this week to make it what Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called “line-item veto proof.” They made language changes to the budget aiming to make it more difficult for Evers to strike out individual words, including replacing the words “may not” and “shall not” with the word “cannot.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said some Republican senators were “skittish” about the changes Evers could make to the document.

The budget heading to Evers’ desk looks quite different from the budget the governor first introduced in February. The GOP-controlled Joint Committee on Finance voted to strip many of Evers’ top priorities, including Medicaid expansion, an 8-cent gas tax increase, raising the minimum wage and legalization of medical marijuana.

Proud of the #Wisconsin budget that has now been approved by both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature. #WIBudget #ItsYourMoney pic.twitter.com/rRpB3cS4e4

— Speaker Robin Vos (@SpeakerVos) June 26, 2019

Fitzgerald called the Republican-written spending plan a “responsible budget” and said he believes Evers will sign it, as he has encouraged him to do during meetings they’ve had.

“I think it will be difficult to reassemble the Legislature, bring them back and then work on the policy decisions from a different perspective if he vetoes the entire thing, which I really hope he doesn’t do,” Fitzgerald said.

Our Republican budget for Wisconsin cuts $2 billion in spending from Evers’ plan, provides over $500 million in tax relief, and STILL invests in our state’s priorities like education, health care, and roads. pic.twitter.com/BuxNczCQ5B

— Scott Fitzgerald (@SenFitzgerald) June 21, 2019

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said she’ll support whatever decision Evers makes.

“I think he has made his points clear about what are his values and priorities in this budget,” she added.

Shilling said as a whole, the budget “missed the mark,” particularly when it comes to not accepting federal Medicaid expansion money and funding for K-12 schools.

Instead of living with the failed policies of the past, we need to move forward with bold, innovative solutions that promote a fair economy and expand opportunities for families and communities. Unfortunately, the Republican budget misses the mark. #WIBudget

— Jennifer Shilling (@SenShilling) June 26, 2019

The plan increases K-12 funding by $500 million over two years, but that is a fraction of the $1.4 billion Evers’ budget proposed. Vos has called the plan a “pro-kid budget.”

GOP senators, including Fitzgerald and Sen. Luther Olsen, have said the state cannot do much better than $500 million.

“The K-12 number that we put in there is so significant that if there’s no other reason that (Evers) should sign the document, not veto the entire thing, it’s the money that we put into K-12,” Fitzgerald told News 3 Now.

If Evers decides to veto the budget altogether, he would be the first Wisconsin governor to do so at least since the 1930s.

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