Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed the 2019-2020 state biennial budget into law with 78 partial vetoes Wednesday morning.
“Today, I am signing the legislature’s budget with the understanding we are nowhere near where we need to be,” he said.
Evers described 2019 Wisconsin Act 9 as a “downpayment” for the promises he made to the people of Wisconsin during the 2018 election campaign. He said the revised budget is in many ways insufficient, not including enough funding for education and lacking an expansive medicaid program. Evers strongly considered vetoing the entire budget but ultimately decided to use his partial veto authority.
“Vetoing this budget in its entirety would have been more of the same divisiveness and petty, political theatrics that the people of Wisconsin have had to put up with for far too long,” Evers said.
2019 Wisconsin Act 9 includes adding $300 million to the stabilization of a “rainy day” fund, a 10 percent tax cut for working families and the largest ever increase of $30.5 million over the biennium in Children and Family Aids to support the child welfare system.
Budget funding will also support over 60 new full-time assistant district attorneys across the state, the first time any new full-time positions funded in the general state budget have been added since 2007. Gov. Evers also ensured the state will continue to work towards closing Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile detention facilities.
“Healthcare is the number one issue that I hear about for our state. As we all know, 70 percent of the people of Wisconsin support expanding Medicaid because they understand it will allow us to expand coverage to more than 80,000 Wisconsinites, it will save over $300 million in state tax dollars, it will lower premiums for those who have private insurance and allow us draw $1.6 billion in federal investment to our healthcare system in Wisconsin,” Evers said.
Evers said he will continue to fight for Medicaid expansion in the state, however, Wisconsin Act 9 does include $230 million to support workers who provide direct care to those in Familycare, nursing homes, and individuals receiving personal care services. The budget also offers $9.9 million for the Rural Critical Care Hospital Supplement, invests $14.2 million in lead testing and abatement to address childhood lead poisoning, and provides nearly $30 million support programs for veterans.
“I said what’s best for our kids is best for our state. Wisconsin Republicans fail to keep their promise to their own blue ribbon commission who recommended to give two-thirds funding for our schools,” Evers said.
He said their proposal only offered a third of what Evers’ initially included in “The People’s Budget” for education, however, Wisconsin Act 9 does include an increase instate special education aid and doubles state support for school mental health programs. Evers was able to increase aid per pupil by almost $100 million over the biennium through the veto process.
“I believe the people of Wisconsin deserve more and that we could and should do more,” he said.