Evers makes stop at UWGB following budget signing
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Gov. Tony Evers made a stop at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) Thursday, July 8, just hours after signing the $87 billion, two-year Wisconsin state budget, which includes the construction of the new Cofrin Technology and Education Center.
“Hallelujah, it is going to happen…” Evers said. “Especially excited to be here today at UW-Green Bay because with this bipartisan budget, and our capital budget, we will be providing more than $96 million dollars to bring this building down and to create a new building in its place. It seems like it’s been forever.”
State Rep. Kristina Shelton, who was at Thursday’s press conference, said the path to get to this point was a team effort.
“When I think about the future of UWGB, our community and our state, I remain hopeful and inspired,” Shelton said. “The Cofrin Technology and Education Center reminds us that it is our duty to rise up together like the Phoenix of UWGB and create a future we can all be proud of. Now is the time to invest in the things we share and to invest in each other. And I want to thank Gov. Evers for investing in us.”
The signed budget also includes a large tax cut for the middle class, which Evers said was a campaign promise he kept.
“When I ran for governor, by delivering on my promise, to cut taxes for middle-class families by 10%,” he said. “I am cutting middle-class taxes by 15%. This morning, I signed one of the largest tax cuts in Wisconsin history.”
Also part of the budget is $685 million in school spending, allowing the state to hit the mark of two-thirds funding for the first time in two decades.
“The two-thirds marker is something we can hold onto every two years when we do the budget,” he said. “It is a new marker, and it is an important one.”
Evers said it wasn’t an option to completely veto the Republican-authored budget because it would cost schools billions in federal funds.
“Vetoing this budget was out of the question for me,” he said. “At the end of the day, vetoing this budget, in its entirety, would have meant not only jeopardizing these investments I’ve talked about already but likely causing our kids and schools to lose out on $2.3 billion in federal funds they may need especially at this point in time.”
Evers announced earlier in the day, on top of the budget, he is investing more than $100 million in federal funds into public schools.
“Here is the bottom line, this investment is a critical step to ensure our kids, our state and our economy can continue to recover,” he said. “I also want to make this clear. We must do everything we can to support our kids and our schools if we want economic recovery to happen in Wisconsin.”
Some state Assembly Republicans have criticized Evers for taking credit for the tax cut, saying it should be them getting the credit.
“Gov. Tony Evers deserves no credit for signing our budget,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) said in a statement. “This was not a bipartisan process of colleagues sharing ideas. He got boxed into a corner, and rather than fight for his unpopular budget and risk a political knockout, he and his team threw in the towel and signed our responsible budget. He is not a fighter. He is not a leader. He did not sign our conservative budget out of bipartisan motives. He is merely sensible enough to recognize a better budget when he sees one.”
Evers dismissed the accusation, saying he “makes promises and keeps them.”
“That is an interesting position for them to take,” Evers said. “One of the things that happened during this pandemic is the Legislature wasn’t in session for just about the entire time, and in addition, a lot of the things we use as tools to get through this pandemic came through federal funds, which (Republicans) encouraged Congress not to send to us. So for them to now say, ‘Oh, by the way, you are taking credit for (it).’ Not wanting federal money. Not wanting to come into session. And then I sign a budget to keep a budget that keeps a promise I made to the people of Wisconsin, that’s rich. That’s rich.”