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Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers released his 2023-25 budget to the Republican-controlled Legislature on Wednesday. He detailed plans to boost school funding and cut taxes, but Republicans have promised to scrap most of Evers’ ideas and start from scratch, as they have in the last two budget cycles.
Here’s a look at some of the major proposals in the spending plan:
By the numbers
— Spend $103.8 billion over the next two years, with total spending increasing almost 18% to $52.1 billion in the first year and then dropping nearly 1% to $51.7 billion in the second. State spending would increase 23% in the first year.
— End the two-year budget term with a positive balance of $34.1 million.
— Add nearly 817 new full-time positions, of which 368 are paid for with state money. That includes 80 new positions at the state agency that processes professional licenses, which has faced criticism for long wait times, and 51 additional assistant district attorneys.
— 10% income tax cut for single people earning up to $100,000 and couples earning up to $150,000.
— Cut all taxes by about $1.5 billion and raise nearly as much through increases primarily by reducing a tax credit for manufacturers and by increasing taxes on some capital gains. Over two years, taxes would be cut by about $81 million.
— Devote 20% of the state sales tax to aid local governments.
— Allow counties and more than two dozen large cities to ask voters to raise the sales tax to pay for local services, such as police, fire protection and road repairs.
— Eliminate the property tax on certain business equipment.
— $2.6 billion in additional funding for K-12 public schools.
— Allow Native Americans, those in the country illegally and military personnel who relocate to Wisconsin to pay in-state tuition rates at University of Wisconsin System schools.
— $100 million to combat pollution and water contamination from so-called forever chemicals known as PFAS.
— Create an Office of Environmental Justice to recommend climate policies.
— Paid family and medical leave up to 12 weeks for most private-sector workers, with $240 million in state funding to get the program off the ground before eventually being funded by employers. The allowable reasons for taking leave would also be expanded.
— Accept federal Medicaid expansion, which the Evers administration said would save the state $850 million the first year and $770 million the second year. That would add 897,000 low-income people to the state’s Medicaid program, more than 30,000 of which currently have no insurance, according to the Evers administration.
— $500 million to expand access to mental and behavioral health services and reduce suicide rates.
— $4 million to pilot electrocardiogram, or EKG, tests to screen youth athletes for heart conditions. Evers announced the funding in memory of Kai Lermer, a Waukesha teen who died of an undiagnosed heart condition in 2019 after going into cardiac arrest while playing basketball.
— Legalize medical and recreational marijuana.
— Raise the age of adult criminal jurisdiction to 18. Right now the age is 17 for most crimes.
— Expand background checks for firearm purchases. Right now private sales do not require background checks.
— Anyone convicted of drunken driving or operating while intoxicated would be required to use an ignition interlock device, including first-time offenders.
— Require the state parole commission and Department of Corrections to notify family members when someone applies for parole or is let out on parole or extended supervision.
— Remove the Legislature’s exemption from state open records laws.
— Give state employees a 5% wage increase in 2023 and a 3% increase in 2024.
— Require board members to leave their positions once the governor names a replacement.
— Double the threshold for legislative approval for land purchases made through the state stewardship program from $250,000 to $500,000. Any lawmaker who objects to a stewardship purchase would be identified; right now legislators can make anonymous objections.
Odds and ends
— $290 million to cover repairs and renovations at American Family Field. The governor’s office and the Brewers have said the team would agree to extend their lease by 13 years to 2043 in exchange for the money.
— A host of election changes. The state Department of Transportation would be required to automatically register eligible citizens to vote with their information on file. Local clerks would be allowed to start tallying absentee ballots the day before an election, and people would only have to live in a municipality for 10 days — instead of the current 28-day minimum — to vote there.
— Nearly $175 million to support renters, including free legal assistance for low-income renters facing evictions and money for municipalities to improve residential properties.
— Provide drivers licenses to those in the country illegally.
— Restore many collective bargaining and worker rights that were repealed by the Republican-controlled Legislature under then-Gov. Scott Walker.