NBC 26 spoke with Governor Tony Evers this week in a one-on-one interview about the issues facing Wisconsin and the coming election, where Evers is running for a second term as governor.
Evers, a Democrat, this week proposed a $600 million annual tax cut.
NBC 26 asked how he would seek Republican approval of the plan. Republicans control the State Assembly and State Senate.
"My pitch is, the money is there, it came from the people of Wisconsin, and let's give them a chance to spend it the way they want to."
Evers said it has been "...a long time" since he last met in-person with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R - Rochester).
"You know, our staff communicate regularly, but he does his thing, and I do mine," Evers said.
Asked if he can or would take any executive action on abortion, Evers said "...unfortunately, no," but, "If any doctor gets charged and found guilty of performing an abortion, I will give them clemency before they step foot in a jail." Wisconsin law bans abortion, except if performed to save the life of the mother.
Evers in June called state lawmakers into special session in a bid to repeal the abortion ban; the legislature adjourned without taking any action.
Asked about school safety, Evers said local districts should decide whether to have a police officer stationed at schools.
As some schools continue to search for teachers, Evers said the state does have a role to play in trying to get schools fully staffed, but said "...it's going to take some time."
"...[O]ne of the reasons we have fewer people going into teaching is pay and respect..." Evers said.
"We can't be so divisive around our schools that teachers say, 'I've had it...'"
Asked what has caused falling test scores in the statewide snapshot of the Wisconsin Forward Exam, Evers said, "...[C]ertainly, the pandemic didn't help that."
"When you have, going in, going out of school... that didn't help."
Evers said "no" when asked if he should have ordered schools statewide to reopen in August of 2020.
"Those decisions were made locally, exactly where they should be," Evers said.
The day after the Jacob Blake shooting in August of 2020, Evers said 125 National Guard members would be deployed to Kenosha.
"Should you have initially sent more?" a reporter asked.
"I did everything I was asked to do by the leaders in Kenosha..." Evers said.
"It's not like there's 1,000 Guardsmen just sitting around the state waiting to be deployed at any one time. These people have jobs and lives. So, to think that somehow we're going to have thousands of Guardsmen there overnight, that just isn't the way it works... [W]e got people there as quickly as possible," Evers said.
To the question of why he is running for re-election, Evers said, "First of all, it's a job I love."
"We've made some really good progress around issues of infrastructure, taxes, frankly, and money for our schools, and broadband across the State of Wisconsin... I think it's good for people to realize that sometimes having divided government works in their favor because both sides kind of play off each other, and we try to end up in the middle a lot of times."
The Republican nominee for governor is Tim Michels.
Michels' campaign released a statement Thursday criticizing Evers on Kenosha.
"When Kenosha desperately needed leadership, Tony Evers was missing in action," the statement said in part.
In the most recent Marquette Law School poll, conducted August 10-15, Evers led Michels 45-to-43, respectively, with independent Joan Beglinger supported by 7 percent of those polled.
NBC 26 has spoken with political candidates throughout Decision 2022.
We will continue to seek interviews with those seeking office; we hope to sit down with Republican nominee for governor Tim Michels.