Reps. Greta Neubauer and Kalan Haywood say the state is going in a positive direction, but they want to make sure everyone is along for the ride.
As Gov. Tony Evers’ State of the State address nears, Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) and Assistant Minority Leader Kalan Haywood (D-Milwaukee) say they hope the governor’s speech will be used to drive home how government can play a significant role in ensuring everyone feels the benefits of the state’s continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wisconsin currently has a record-low unemployment rate, wages have grown—albeit slowly—the state faces a $3.8 billion budget surplus, and thousands of small businesses have been buoyed by pandemic relief grants.
In Tuesday’s address, Evers is likely to tout those positive factors. But in a recent virtual luncheon hosted by WisPolitics.com, Haywood and Neubauer acknowledged not all communities have experienced a solid resurgence, and they stressed the ways lawmakers and government officials can play a role in ensuring everyone gets a slice of the pie.
“Although the state is doing good overall economically, for some Wisconsinites, both urban and rural, that’s not the reality. Be honest about that with ourselves,” Haywood said. “Figure out … how do we use that prosperity, that growth, to make sure we’re filling in those gaps and make sure that no one is left behind?”
Neubauer said she wants “every policy we put forward, every bill, every discussion with a Wisconsinite” to reflect the fact that lawmakers have a role to play.
Likely to be among the most pressing matters for the remainder of this year’s legislative session is how—or whether—to use the historic budget surplus.
Evers put forward a plan, which Neubauer said Assembly Democrats support, that would increase school funding, provide Wisconsinites with $150 tax rebate checks, and invest in child care. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) have so far flatly refused to use the surplus, saying they would save it for the next state budget.
“What’s at the center of that for us is recognizing that things can be better, that Wisconsinites deserve more than the leadership they’ve been getting from Republicans in the Legislature, and that we have a real and concrete plan to get there,” Neubauer said.