Gov. Evers Delivers State of the State Address; Calls for Special Session
Gov. Tony Evers (D) delivered his annual State of the State address of Feb. 15, using the opportunity to not only highlight what he believes are his recent accomplishments but also lay out his future policy goals
Looking at what is likely to be a hard-fought reelection bid this year, the Governor took advantage of his platform to tout his recod over the past 12-plus month, focusing on his allocation of Wisconsin’s share of federal COVID-19 pandemic funding, which includes:
- $1 billion in financial relief for small businesses, as well as the agriculture, tourism, and hospitality industries.
- Over $100 million for infrastructure projects.
- Roughly $100 million for statewide broadband internet expansion.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure our workers had jobs to return to after this pandemic. Through federal pandemic aid to our state, we’ve invested $1 billion into supporting our small businesses, farmers, and tourism, lodging, and entertainment industries,” said Evers. “To date, we’ve supported more than 100,000 small businesses, and nearly 3,000 of those small businesses have opened up new storefronts on Main Streets across our state. “
In addition, Evers highlighted the state’s record low unemployment and $3.8 billion budget surplus.
“Last month, after receiving the great news about our low unemployment rate, we received even more good news. A new report showed Wisconsin is projected to have a $3.8 billion surplus—that’s billion with a B—in our state’s checking account at the end of this biennium,” said Evers. “And that’s not even including the more than $1.7 billion sitting in our ‘rainy day’ fund, which is the highest it’s ever been in Wisconsin state history.”
The Governor also used the address to call for a special session of the legislature to consider his proposals to spend a portion of the state’s budget surplus. His proposals include sending a $150 refund to all Wisconsin citizens, provide over $130 million in child and caregiver tax credits, and allocate an additional $750 million for public schools.
Evers concluded his State of the State address by announcing the following new initiatives he will fund with federal pandemic relief funds:
- $5 million to provide mental health assistance to Wisconsin National Guard members.
- $30 million for emergency medical service providers, including $20 million for rural areas.
- $15 million for school mental health services.
- $5 million for mental health services within the UW System.
- $25 million to maintain the UW System tuition freeze through mid-2023.