TO: Clients & Friends

FROM: Tony Langenohl
DATE: February 17th, 2021

SUBJECT: Gov. Evers 21-23 Budget
In This Update
  • Governor Evers Introduces 2021-2023 Budget
  • Legislative Reaction
  • Budget Documents
Gov. Evers introduces 2021-2023 Budget
Last night, Governor Tony Evers delivered his 2021-2023 Budget Address remotely to a Joint Session of the Wisconsin State Legislature.

Of note in his remarks were the following initiatives that were highlighted:

Economic Development:

  • $200 million into helping small businesses affected by the pandemic, including helping them retain and rehire the jobs they’ve lost.
  • $100 million into a venture capital program to jumpstart innovation and startups in Wisconsin. 

K-12 Education:

  • $140 million to support our kids and our families—to address quality, access, and equity in our early education and childcare system for our kids, all while supporting the folks who care for them. 
  • $709 million investment in special education aid. 
  • two-thirds funding for our schools. 
  • invest in supporting our rural schools by fully funding sparsity aid with a $20 million investment. 

Technical College:

  • an additional $36 million investment over the next two years. 

UW System:

  • keeps the tuition freeze for our System campuses. 
  • invest $190 million into the UW System over the next two years.  


  • Proposes closing Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile correction institutions 

Climate Change:

  • because of climate change, proposes a $30 million investment in proactively flood proofing to help municipalities address at-risk properties and infrastructure with programs that help build adaptable roads and infrastructure, restore wetlands to prevent catastrophic flooding, 
  • commits to Wisconsin being 100 percent carbon-free by 2050, 
  • double the required utility company contribution to the Focus on Energy Program to generate an additional $100 million.
  • creating a new $20 million energy efficient grant program for schools to update aging infrastructure and reduce energy usage. 
  • $1 million in our Fast Forward program specifically for training for green jobs across the state.
  • creating a $4 million renewable and clean energy research grant through the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy and directing the Public Service Commission to establish an innovative technologies pilot program in partnership with the state’s utilities. 

Other items of note in the Governor's Budget Proposal
The Governor's budget proposal also proposes these changes:

  • repealing the provisions of 2011 Act 10 and reinstating collective bargaining powers for some public employees
  • adopting a state-based health insurance exchange and a pilot public option
  • increasing the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $8.60/hour and eventually to $10.15/hour by 2024. And creating a task force to get Wisconsin to $15/hour.
  • capping enrollment in the state's school voucher programs
  • eliminating a tax credit for manufacturers
  • fully legalizing recreational marijuana
Legislative Reaction to the Governor's Budget
Republican Leaders
Republican Legislative leaders Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), Joint Finance Co-Chairs Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) released the following statement in response to Governor Evers’ 2021-23 Biennial State Budget:

“Instead of priorities to move the state forward, the governor’s budget proposal is more of a political document to fill the wish lists of his own party,” said Speaker Vos.
“The spending plan contains far too many poison pills like expanding welfare, legalizing recreational marijuana, repealing Act 10 and growing the size of government.”

“The Governor’s budget is completely irresponsible and unrealistic. It’s reckless with tax dollars and loaded with divisive policies that move our state backward,” Leader LeMahieu said. “Our responsible Republican budgeting allowed our state and our people to weather the 2020 storm and come out stronger. We’ll set Evers’ bad budget aside and continue to build on our strong foundation that put our state on strong fiscal footing over the decade.”

“I am disappointed that Governor Evers’ has ignored the calls of Republicans in the legislature and included divisive items in his budget proposal,” said Rep. Born. “Welfare expansion and marijuana legalization are items we have already said we would not take up in the budget - but the Governor included them anyway. Now he is using these divisive items to try and fund massive amounts of spending and several new programs, when he can’t even manage the programs he currently has before him. ”

“The Governor is selling his budget as a ‘change’ budget. But I don’t know why we would want to change the responsible budgeting that has produced a massive budget surplus despite a pandemic,” Senator Marklein said. “I don’t know why we would want to change the reforms that have given us the largest rainy day fund in state history. And I definitely don’t want to change our focus on respecting taxpayers while funding our priorities. The Governor’s change budget is a bad budget for Wisconsin.” 
“It’s disappointing to see that once again, the governor is taking an approach to our state’s budget that increases the tax burden on Wisconsinites and invests in the wrong priorities. By building his budget on non-negotiables like legalizing recreational marijuana and expanding government-run healthcare, the governor is once again taking an all-or-nothing approach to governing.

“While there are items in the budget we can agree and build on – things like funding our schools and expanding the Child Psychiatry Consultation Program – I along with my Assembly Republican colleagues will be focused on bringing to the table a budget that reflects Wisconsin priorities, not another liberal wishlist.” (Link)
“Governor Evers released a budget very similar to his last budget—a budget stuffed with tax increases, higher spending, and non-fiscal policy. Let’s remember that had Republicans not removed all the special interest spending and excessive increases in 2019, we’d be facing a massive budget deficit right now instead of a $2.1 billion surplus and a strong rainy day fund.
“Something we can agree upon is the continuation of the UW tuition freeze. I’m proud to be a part of the CPA Caucus that discovered the slush fund that led to the implementation of the tuition freeze that has provided a tremendous cost savings for families and students.

“This pandemic isn’t over, and now is not the time to increase spending. We need a responsible budget that is good for Wisconsin in these uncertain times. A budget that won’t kick families when they’re down by taking more dollars out of their pockets, but will instead help everyone fully recover in the aftermath of economic hardship.

“Republicans will once again govern responsibly and sift out the excess until we have a budget that is good for Wisconsin. One that will continue to provide a strong fiscal future for our state. And be prepared for whatever challenges or opportunities come next.” 
Democratic Leaders
“If we’ve learned anything from the last year it’s the importance of access to affordable and quality healthcare,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point). “Once again, Gov. Evers is prioritizing healthcare for Wisconsinites by introducing a budget that makes critical investments in health services while also expanding BadgerCare. This proposal supports rural hospitals and clinics, increases financial stability for families and is the smartest economic decision for our state.”

“As our state continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I do not underestimate the challenges that our communities will continue to face,” said Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee). “However, I am filled with hope knowing that Governor Tony Evers' 2021-2023 proposed budget invests in our state's children and families. I am particularly happy to see that the budget continues and builds upon a program that addresses the quality, affordability, and access to child care with a $140 million investment. All of our children, regardless of their zip code, deserve the opportunity to thrive, and this budget 'connects the dots' by ensuring families have access to high- quality childcare so more people can remain in the workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the critical importance of our public schools and the impact they have on our communities. An investment into our kids is an investment into our future. That is why I am encouraged to see that the governor's proposed budget includes a substantial investment to fully fund our public schools and make them whole.”

“Governor Evers’ budget creates a clear path forward as we begin a new decade and recover from the pandemic,” said Rep. Goyke (D-Milwaukee). “Most importantly, this budget makes investments to create opportunities for resiliency and growth. Substantial thought and planning went into the provisions that will improve our criminal justice and juvenile justice systems and offer us an opportunity to create a more equitable system, save money, and increase public safety.”

“This is a winning budget for Wisconsin’s working families,” said Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine). “With the Governor’s budget, we can invest in our shared future, our local economy, and an equitable recovery from COVID- 19, while tackling climate change and building sustainable, resilient communities. Governor Evers’ plan to update our aging infrastructure, develop green jobs, support entrepreneurship, and invest in climate change mitigation is a great first step in creating good-paying, family-supporting jobs for every Wisconsin worker.” 

“The 2021-23 state budget must address the reality of operating in the COVID-19 pandemic and make the crucial investments in programs that move the state forward. Tonight, Governor Evers introduced a budget that prioritizes the needs of hard-working Wisconsinites and continues to help Wisconsin’s families and small businesses bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. This budget shows what is possible if we truly prioritize Wisconsin people and Wisconsin communities.

“Governor Evers articulated a progressive plan to invest in Wisconsin’s public schools, increase access to affordable health care, spur economic development in every part of our state, and ensure our local government partners have the resources to respond to important needs close to home. He proposed steps to increase Wisconsin’s sustainability, continue our commitment to preserving Wisconsin’s natural resources, invest in our agricultural economy, and ensure access to high-speed internet in all parts of the state.

“I look forward to an engaging budget dialogue with my colleagues in the coming months, and I urge them to come to this process with an open mind. Let’s listen to our constituents, set aside partisan games, and pass a budget that puts the people of Wisconsin first.” (link)
Budget Documents
Links to individual agency budgets
Additional Budget Documents
Budget Legislation
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