Gov. Evers signs biennial budget with dozens of line-item vetoes

Gov. Tony Evers signed the 2023-25 biennial budget Wednesday, with more than 50 line-item vetoes used.
Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 11:24 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2023 at 4:10 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Gov. Tony Evers signed the 2023-25 biennial budget Wednesday, with more than 50 line-item vetoes used.

During a press conference at the State Capitol Wednesday, Evers touted that the budget provides investments in education, PFAS contamination prevention and workforce development. It also provides investments in local communities, with at least a 20% shared revenue in most municipalities.

“Now even as I’m glad the Legislature joined me in making critical investments in several key areas, the fact remains that this budget remains imperfect and incomplete,” Evers said.

Evers criticized the Republican-authored spending plan passed in the Legislature, saying it failed to address workforce challenges. The governor explained he would be enacting his veto authority for the Legislature to continue work, starting with making sure childcare is affordable so parents can stay in the workforce. The Legislature had knocked down Evers’ proposal of over $300 million for the state’s child care industry and to support the workforce. Evers’ veto will provide $15 million during fiscal year 2023-24 so the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation can provide grants to child care providers.

Senate Democratic Leader Melissa Agard (D-Madison) commended Evers for signing the budget and issuing 51 partial vetoes.

“He took the Republican authored budget that came out of the Joint Finance Committee and vastly improved it,” Agard said.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) argued that Evers’ partial veto for taxes will put Wisconsin at risk of falling behind other states.

“The State Senate is committed to providing substantial tax relief to all Wisconsin taxpayers and making our tax structure flatter and fairer,” LeMahieu said.

Evers was unable to undo the $32 million cut to the University of Wisconsin, which was funding that Republicans said would have gone toward diversity, equity and inclusion — or DEI — programming and staff. The budget Evers signed does allow for the university to get the funding later if it can show it would go toward workforce development and not DEI.

Gov. Evers signs biennial budget 2023-25
Gov. Evers signs biennial budget 2023-25(NBC15)

State Superintendent Jill Underly said the budget provides districts with something to go off of, but more investments must be made.

“It offers districts an ongoing foundation of revenue growth to build from,” Underly stated. “But we continue to need answers to the growing shortages and inequities caused by a lack of mental health, nutrition, and special education funding, as well as the imbalances caused by publicly funding two education systems, and only one of which really serves all kids. I hope we can rectify that in future budgets.”

The budget increases funding for public schools by over $1 billion, setting aside $50 million for reading and literacy, as well as $30 million for mental health services. It also raises revenue limits for public school districts by $325 per student.

“Wisconsin property taxpayers will also bear the burden of Gov. Evers veto regarding per-pupil school funding,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). “By allowing this level into the future, homeowners will experience massive property tax increases in the coming years.

Gov. Tony Evers signs the biennial budget
Gov. Tony Evers signs the biennial budget(NBC15)

Evers vetoed a portion of the budget handed on his desk that he said would have provided a tax cut of $1.8 million per year to the wealthiest 11 taxpayers in Wisconsin, instead reducing individual income tax rates for the bottom two income tax brackets. Evers said this will provide about $175 million in individual income tax reductions over the 2023-25 budget years. Every filer will still get a tax cut.

“I applaud Governor Evers for decisively rejecting Republican attempts to give the wealthy a tax cut so large that it would have upended future state budgets,” said Sen. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit). “Instead, the Governor has used his partial veto pen to deliver responsible tax relief for Wisconsinites while pressing for action on issues that are critical to our state, like funding for childcare and education.

““The Republican budget included a tax plan that reduced income taxes by $3.5 billion over the biennium, targeted at the middle brackets,” Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) said. “Governor Evers gutted this tax plan, all but eliminating income tax relief on Wisconsin families from this budget.”

The spending plan also sets aside $50 million for housing rehabilitation for low- to moderate-income families, includes over $555 million for transportation projects and provides $125 million to prevent PFAS contamination.

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers displays a two-year budget authored by the Republicans...
Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers displays a two-year budget authored by the Republicans controlled Legislature that he signed, Wednesday, July 5, 2023, in Madison, Wis. Evers used his partial veto power to remove tax cuts for the state's wealthiest taxpayers and protect 180 diversity, equity and inclusion jobs Republicans wanted to cut at the University of Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Harm Venhuizen)(Harm Venhuizen | AP)

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