Governor Tony Evers has announced his plans for advancing his workforce, environment, and health agenda in the next four years. In an exclusive interview with Spectrum News 1, Evers shared his priorities and challenges for his second term, which begins in January 2024.
Investing in education and infrastructure
One of Evers’ main goals is to increase funding for public schools, especially after many districts had to resort to referenda to raise money for their operations and facilities. Evers said he wants to ensure that every child in Wisconsin has access to quality education, regardless of their zip code.
“We have to do more for our schools,” Evers said. “Our schools, K-12 schools, went on many referenda over the last election, so I anticipate that there will be a need for more money for our schools.”
Evers also wants to improve the state’s infrastructure, especially its roads and bridges, which have been ranked among the worst in the nation. Evers said he will propose a sustainable and fair way to fund transportation projects, without relying on borrowing or delaying maintenance.
“We have to fix our roads,” Evers said. “We have some of the worst roads in the country, and that affects not only our economy, but also our safety and our quality of life.”
Pursuing clean energy and climate action
Another priority for Evers is to transition Wisconsin to a clean energy economy, and to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Evers said he will implement the recommendations of his Clean Energy Plan, which was released in April 2023, and which outlines a pathway to reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050.
“We have to act on climate change,” Evers said. “We have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and we have to create jobs and opportunities in the clean energy sector.”
Evers said he will also work with other states and countries to cooperate on climate action, and to showcase Wisconsin’s leadership and innovation in this area. Evers cited the example of the 2030 Roadmap for India-UK future relations, which was signed in May 2023, and which includes a partnership on clean energy and green growth.
“We have to be part of the global solution,” Evers said. “We have to collaborate with our allies and partners, and we have to share our best practices and learn from each other.”
Expanding health care access and affordability
A third priority for Evers is to expand health care access and affordability for all Wisconsinites, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Evers said he will continue to advocate for expanding Medicaid eligibility, which he said would save the state money and cover more people.
“We have to expand Medicaid,” Evers said. “It’s a no-brainer. It’s good for our budget, it’s good for our health, and it’s good for our economy.”
Evers also said he will enhance the state’s response to the pandemic, by increasing testing, tracing, and vaccination efforts, and by supporting the health care workers and facilities that are on the frontlines of the crisis.
“We have to fight COVID-19,” Evers said. “We have to protect our people and our communities, and we have to follow the science and the public health guidance.”
Seeking compromise and cooperation with Republicans
Evers acknowledged that achieving his agenda will require compromise and cooperation with the Republican-controlled legislature, which has often clashed with him on various issues. Evers said he hopes to find common ground with the GOP leaders, and to avoid unnecessary conflicts and lawsuits.
“We have to work together,” Evers said. “We have to respect each other, and we have to listen to each other. We have to focus on the things that unite us, not the things that divide us.”
Evers said he is optimistic that there will be some areas of agreement, such as increasing shared revenue for local governments, reforming marijuana laws, and addressing racial disparities and social justice.
“We have to move Wisconsin forward,” Evers said. “We have to make our state a better place for everyone, not just for some.”