GOP leaders respond to Gov. Evers' lawsuit after UW System employee raises are withheld

Last week, Governor Evers sued GOP lawmakers after they voted to withhold salary raises for UW System employees only
Posted at 11:02 AM, Nov 08, 2023

MADISON — It's been one week since Governor Tony Evers filed a lawsuit against state Republicans for withholding raises for all University of Wisconsin System employees.

That's after a Republican-controlled committee approved raises for every other state employee, but chose to withhold raises for US System staff only.
"This is about the state university employees who are getting the short end of the stick because the Republicans have decided not to play ball," Governor Evers said last week.

That was Evers' reasoning for filing suit at the end of October.

In addition, Evers said Republicans were withholding those raises until UW schools eliminated diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

For two days, tried contacting several GOP lawmakers for their response to the governor's suit, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos who co-chairs the committee that voted to withhold the raises.

During a press conference Tuesday, we asked Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for his response to the governor's suit.

"Can you provide some clarity on whether or not JOCER [Joint Committee on Employment Relations] has chosen to withhold funding for UW System employees until DEI programs are eliminated? Is that true?" Jenna Rae asked.

"Sure, well first of all, the legislature's ability to allocate the funds is longstanding. Governor Evers has a typical tactic, rather than reaching out trying to find a consensus, maybe trying to generate some kind of bipartisanship, he has now resorted to just going to court," Vos responded.

As Vos' staff tried to end Tuesday's press conference, we pushed for more clarification.

"Speaker, why are you withholding funds from just UW System staff," Rae attempted to ask.

"Who do you work for?," Vos interrupted.

"I work for (NBC 26 sister station) TMJ4. Why are you withholding raises for specifically UW System staff and not the rest of state employees? We've been asking this question for a week. I understand you've been out of town, so can we just get some clarification on that please?" Rae asked.

"Yeah, it's very easy. We need to have a university system that represents the entire state. Right now, we have a system that does not," Vos said. "I think that in the end, we will hopefully find a way to get to a 'yes', but the legislature is not going to stand behind the idea that we can have a system that focuses on division, indoctrination, and exclusion at the expense of the rest of the state," he added.

UW President Jay Rothman talked last week about the cuts and explained why DEI initiatives should stay.

"I've been very clear on DEI. I came from the private sector, I know how the private sector looks at DEI, and how important a diverse workforce is for them," Rothman said. "We have to be a place that is inclusive for everyone in the state of Wisconsin so that prospective students and students will come to our campuses, so that we can fulfill and fill the jobs that our state employers are creating," he added.
Right now, there's still no timeline for if and when the State Supreme Court will take up this case.