Praise for Evers's Pro-Democracy Budget

March 1, 2019

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

Last night, Gov. Tony Evers gave an excellent speech on his budget: thoughtful, compassionate, and forward-thinking.

It also was a pro-democracy speech.

“I believe everyone should have the opportunity to participate in our democracy,” he said, and this assertion surely should be incontestable.

Also incontestable was his next sentence: “People should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around.” That’s the heart of the argument for banning gerrymandering in Wisconsin. And Evers pledged to do just that by endorsing “nonpartisan redistricting in Wisconsin.”

And, in a stark departure from his predecessor, Gov. Evers announced that he wanted to make voting easier – not harder – by coming out for “automatic voter registration in Wisconsin.”

More broadly, his speech was pro-democracy in that he advocated for reforms to address some of the inequities in our state.

From criminal justice reform to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants to boosting public education and offering in-state tuition for Dreamers, Evers presented a new vision of an inclusive Wisconsin that is open for everyone – and not just business.

It’s a vision that was not welcomed by some of the biggest special interests in Wisconsin.

The head of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Kurt Bauer, called it “ an irresponsible budget,” adding that “the plethora of tax hikes, increased regulations and new spending is nearly inconceivable.”

Eric Bott, the head of the Koch Brothers’ group Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, derided the speech as being “driven by politics.”

These are among the players who, for the last, long eight years, owned Wisconsin’s governor.

No longer.