Gov. Tony Evers delivered his third budget address on Wednesday evening. Here are some overall impressions.
The meat was mostly pink, not red. Evers led with basic stuff that should have been bipartisan. Expanded internet, building roads, workforce housing, tax relief, more money for schools, aids to local governments to hire cops and firefighters. Until the back side of his speech, Evers was hitting them right down the center. And yet…
What? Are your hands broken? Republicans wouldn’t clap for anything. Not for the expansion of high speed internet mostly for rural communities, not for fixing the darn roads in their own districts, not for middle class tax relief, not for affordable housing, not for economic development, not even for EKG’s for young athletes. EKG’s?
A little small ball. Just like Pres. Joe Biden’s, Evers peppered his speech with some small, relatable efforts. For example, he announced an EKG screening program for kids in youth athletics and told the story of a young athlete who died because his condition had gone undiscovered.
Family leave vs. the Brewers. Evers announced that he would spend $240 million on paid family leave. He’s spending $290 million on a handout to the Milwaukee Brewers for their stadium renovation. Not only is that a bad look, but his family leave proposal will be DOA with the Republicans while the Brewers bailout has a better than even chance of being approved. Notably, Evers didn’t mention the Brewers money in his address. Maybe he’s embarrassed. He should be.
Mercifully short and short on camp. Evers said what he needed to say in about 40 minutes and, with only a couple of exceptions, he didn’t drag in a bunch of people to point at in the gallery. Ronald Reagan started that. It’s not the worst thing he ever did, but it’s among them.
Bipartisan appeal. After spending a relatively brief time touching a few Democratic hot buttons, like restoring abortion rights and drivers licenses for immigrants, he ended by calling for bipartisanship. “There is more in this budget that unites us than divides us,” he said. Overall, I’d say it was a low-key speech aimed at the middle and it might have even put the GOP on the defensive, because…
Why did Vos go home? The media expected a response from Speaker Robin Vos, but then apparently he pulled it. I’m not sure what to make of that, but it suggests that they were surprised by something. Did they expect a more partisan speech that they were going to blast?
Let’s hear it for Spectrum 1. The cable company’s own 24 hour news service is actually better than anything else out there right now in the electronic media for covering state politics. Not only did they cover the entire speech live, but they followed it with some good analysis and then they were prepared to cover Speaker Vos’ response if there had been one. Even Wisconsin Public Television cut away to a John McGivern rerun right after the speech.
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