Help with childcare costs, legalizing medical marijuana and possible cuts for middle-class wage earners are all possibilities for Governor Tony Evers in 2024.
Political Reporter Charles Benson asks the governor about his priorities as the state still sits on a healthy budget surplus.
Governor Evers says helping parents with childcare costs will be one of his top budget priorities in 2024.
And the money is there, with the state still sitting on a multi-billion dollar budget surplus.
Benson: With billions still left in the budget surplus, what will be your priority to spend down some of that money?
Evers: Childcare. First, certainly childcare.
Benson: Do you have to some sort of compromise agreement with Republicans with tax cuts? Along with childcare?
Evers: My administration, since we've been here, we've lowered taxes by $1.5 billion.
Republicans rejected Governor Evers' paid family leave and childcare funding proposal last year, but Evers also turned down lawmakers' childcare tax credit expansion.
Evers vetoed two Republican-backed tax cuts for wealthier earners in 2023 while keeping cuts for lower-income wages.
“Obviously, if the tax cuts that are going to be a quid pro quo with any other thing that might be important but if it's all about wealthy being made more wealthy by tax-cutting there that's probably a nonstarter," said Evers. “If there's opportunities to lower taxes, Hell, yes. We'll do that, but it has to be for the middle class. “
2024 could be the year Wisconsin legalizes medical marijuana. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has signaled it's a possibility.
Benson: Do you see the state of Wisconsin legalizing medical marijuana?
Evers: From the point of the speaker, it looks like he's changed his mind. So, if that's the case, I'm ready for that.
Governor Evers has previously proposed legalizing and taxing recreational and medical marijuana but with no approval from Republican lawmakers.
Evers: You know, the state of Wisconsin, any polling forever is showing that their people are okay with recreational marijuana and medicinal and so let's have the conversation and see where we end up.
Benson: But will you accept something just on the medical side that does not include a recreational side?
Evers: It's a step. Yeah, absolutely I would.
We should learn more about Governor Evers' budget priorities during his State of the State speech on January 23.