(left) Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, (right) Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (Screenshot via WisconsinEye)
(left) Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, (right) Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (Screenshot via WisconsinEye)

After being reelected in the midterms, state House Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and state Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu signal they may be willing to negotiate with Gov. Tony Evers on how to use the state’s record budget surplus.

Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Sen. Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu have talked to Gov. Tony Evers for the first time in two years, according to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

During Evers’ first term in office, he and the Republican Legislature were not able to work together on how to spend the state’s $5 billion dollar surplus. The legislature has continuously rejected Evers’s proposals, limiting his power in office. During that time,  the governor has vetoed more than 120 Republican backed bills.  

But following this month’s midterm elections, which saw Evers win reelection and Republicans retain control of the legislature,there are signs of a break in the impasse.

“If we can get some big wins, we can give on some issues,” LeMahieu told the Sentinel. “I think we can find some common ground to negotiate. I don’t want to be sitting here in four years with $30 billion in surplus because we can’t give on any issues.”

Vos told the Sentinel that he and LeMahieu spoke to Evers for five minutes recently, which was“more than we have in the last two years.” Plans for an in-person meeting in the future were also discussed.

“I’m willing to have a give and take–short of Gov. Evers saying there are things he can never do,” Vos said. 

Evers’ spokeswoman Britt Cudaback told the Sentinel that the governor “looks forward to working with legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle and remains hopeful that Republican leaders will put politics aside to do the right thing for our state by investing in our kids and public schools, restoring reproductive freedom, and cutting taxes by 10 percent for working families, among other critical priorities.”

As for public school funding, Vos said he would be willing to spend more money on public schools, but only if Evers compromises on his opposition to universal school choice. 

One issue where the two sides are unlikely to find common ground, however, is on abortion rights. 

Evers supports a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Josh Kaul seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban, while Republicans who support the ban show little willingness to compromise on the issue. Earlier this month, Vos said he would seek to add exceptions for rape or incest, however, Evers said that he would veto any bill focused only on exceptions because he wants to see the entire bill overturned. Any exceptions to the ban will prevent Kaul’s lawsuit from overturning the law in its entirety.