Wisconsin governor vetoes $2 billion tax cut, calls Republican plan 'completely unserious'

Governor Tony Evers relaxes restrictions on some non-essential businesses
Posted at 2:50 PM, Nov 20, 2023

MADISON (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Monday vetoed a $2 billion Republican tax cut bill, calling it “completely unserious.”

Evers' veto was expected, as he opposed the GOP plan from the moment it was introduced as a substitute to the Democratic governor's own workforce development package. Evers has previously vetoed a similar income tax cut passed by the Legislature.

Republicans don't have enough votes, without help from Democrats, to override the veto. Lawmakers are not scheduled to return in session until mid-January.

Republicans gutted a $1 billion Evers proposal to invest in child care he called on the Legislature to pass in a special session in September.

Instead, the Legislature passed a measure that would have cut income taxes, created a child care tax credit, and increased income tax deductions for private school tuition. The vetoed bill also had provisions to recognize some out-of-state professional credentials in Wisconsin, and to prohibit state examining boards from requiring counselors, therapists and pharmacists to pass tests on state law and regulations.

Evers, in his veto message, said the Republican bill failed to “meaningfully and sensibly address the workforce challenges that have plagued Wisconsin for a decade.”

“It is clear today Republicans remain disinterested in passing real solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our state,” Evers wrote.

The Evers proposal rejected by the Legislature would have spent $365 million on child care, $65 million on University of Wisconsin funding, $200 million on a new engineering building at UW-Madison and $243 million toward a 12-week family medical leave program for Wisconsin workers.

Republicans who control the Legislature remain in talks with university leaders about funding the engineering building.

Earlier this month, more than 40 business leaders from across Wisconsin sent lawmakers a letter urging them to support the project, saying a new engineering building would allow the university to serve more students and employers. The Wisconsin Alumni Association is also funding an advertising campaign about the need for more engineers in the state.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos last week that “We would love to be able to find a way to get to yes" to approve the engineering building funding. But he said UW must control the number of positions it has added in recent years and address his concerns about diversity, equity and inclusion programming.

Vos has argued that DEI programs are a waste of public funding and that the university should be focused on other priorities.

Vos has blocked pay raises for UW employees over his objection to the university's DEI efforts. Evers has filed a lawsuit arguing that the Legislature is unconstitutionally stopping the pay raises.