Here’s Why Folks Will Be Talking About Gov. Tony Evers’ Budget Moves 402 Years from Now

Wisconsin Budget

Gov. Tony Evers signed a two-year spending plan into law on July 5, 2023, at the state Capitol in Madison. The budget was authored by Republicans who control the Legislature, but Evers used his partial veto powers to revise portions of it. (AP Photo/Harm Venhuizen)

By Pat Kreitlow

July 6, 2023

The governor modified the Republicans’ 2023-25 state budget bill with partial vetoes that scale back the GOP’s tax cuts for the very wealthy and provide public schools with a minimum level of funding until 2425.

We don’t know if there will be Jetsons-like flying cars in 2425 or if news will be disseminated telepathically by then, but one safe prediction to make about that year is that there will be people writing a story about how Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers was looking out for their children some 400 years before they were born.

Evers’ use of a governor’s partial veto powers Wednesday morning in the state budget bill established a certain minimal level of public school state aid and also significantly reduced Republican legislators’ plans to give a massive tax cut to the state’s wealthiest filers.

Once Evers had modified the bill with 51 partial vetoes, he signed into law a two-year spending plan that also cements historic increases in state shared revenue with local governments, boosts state funding for education, and commits a nine-figure investment in fighting PFAS pollution in drinking water.

“I am also pleased this budget provides substantial and well-deserved increases in compensation for correctional officers, youth counselors, psychiatric care technicians, assistant district attorneys, and public defenders,” said Evers when signing the bill at the state Capitol. “It provides sizable investments in tourism marketing and advertising initiatives; and includes the resources necessary to continue our work fixing our roads and making sure our infrastructure is built for a workforce and economy of the 21st century.”

Evers was sharply critical of the Republican-controlled Legislature for items that were missing from the budget bill or “incomplete.” 

“In many ways, Republicans in the Legislature have failed to meet this historic moment, sending my budget back to my desk absent critical investments in key areas that they know are essential to the success of our state,” Evers said. “State funding for high-speed broadband. Affordable and accessible child care. Substantial categorical aid increases for our schools. Fully funded universal school breakfasts and lunches. Investing in our University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Technical College Systems. Targeted tax relief for caregivers, parents, seniors, and veterans and their spouses. BadgerCare expansion. Expanded paid family leave. Legalizing and taxing marijuana much like alcohol.”

Evers said he understood the sentiment of many people and organizations demanding he veto the bill and force Republicans to start over, but he said it would jeopardize the positive aspects included in the budget. Moreover, he said, his partial vetoes mean the Legislature will have nearly $1.5 billion dollars in each of the next two fiscal years that can be used for some of those missing items—although there is no guarantee Republicans will take up anything in a fall session.

It may not have been Evers’ intent to impact scheduled school funding for the next 402 years, but the governor was able to use a partial veto to substantially lengthen what had been written as a short-term increase in state imposed revenue limits on K-12 per-pupil aid. Instead of a $325 per pupil increase in only the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years, Evers vetoed a few of the digits so that the increase occurs each year until 2425.

While the creative school funding veto got plenty of attention, the veto with the largest impact is likely the one striking down the Republican plan to use much of a record $7 billion surplus on income tax cuts that were to be heavily skewed toward people in the wealthiest tax brackets. Through partial vetoes affecting the top two brackets and keeping the tax cuts in the lower two brackets, Evers said all taxpayers will still see some form of a tax cut—though he expressed disappointment that Republicans didn’t simply enact his 10% tax cut for single filers with income under $100,000 and married joint filers with incomes under $150,000.

Editorial: On Cutting Taxes, Republicans Should Use Evers’ ‘Bounce Back’ Approach. Instead, They ‘Fox-Conned’ Their Tax Cut.

Some Republicans were profanely angry about the removal of tax cuts for the highest income tax filers.

“With his veto message today Governor Evers said, ‘F*** the taxpayers, they don’t know a G**d*** thing about spending their own money,” said Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) in a social media post. “These vetoes aren’t the work of a rational governor. They are the conscious decisions of a radical governor.”

Author

  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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