Many legislators on both sides of the aisle have expressed disappointment in Wisconsin’s biennial budget passed by Gov. Tony Evers last week, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Largely drafted by the Republican-controlled Legislature, with 78 changes made through Evers’ line item veto power, the final result is a quasi-compromise—a better result than a full veto.
In such a large document there are many things to take issue with, including Evers’ powerful line item veto power, which allowed him to increase spending on K-12 schools by $87 million above the Republican version. Evers also re-allocated $15 million away from a mental health care facility in Eau Claire for one in Madison.
Evers shifted local road money away from direct payments to municipalities in favor of the DOT’s discretion on projects. But the budget still contains an appreciable increase in local road funding.
Evers axed a $2.5 million road tolling study after the GOP rejected his idea of an 8-cent gas tax increase. Instead, drivers will pay more in registration and title fees. It may not be the most equitable approach to improving roads, but new revenue for transportation is overdue. To allocate much less than the $465 million in new funding would have been a blunder.
Other bipartisan wins include a 10% middle class tax cut, more overall health care funding and resources to improve water quality. An Evers veto preserved funding levels for producer led watershed protection grants, and the budget bolsters the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program for municipalities. A wide variety of health care initiatives were boosted.
Budgets are almost never crowd pleasers, but in this time of divided government this one could be tallied as a win—over gridlock at the least.
Editorials are the views of the newspaper as determined by The Chronotype’s editorial board. All editorials are written by one or more members of the board, which consists of Bob Dorrance, Ruth Erickson, Leiah Fundell and Ryan Urban.