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Evers administration says budget cuts to continue as pandemic hits state’s bottom line

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – About $70 million in budgetary spending cuts have taken effect across several agencies as the state tries to manage the likely long-term economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The largest cut is with the UW System which saw a $40.8 million budget reduction. The next largest cut was for the Department of Health Services which saw a cut of $7.5 million.

The Evers administration’s planned actions were initially praised by Republicans, but have since drawn some criticism.

“After claiming that he would cut state operations spending by 5%, the plan released by Governor Tony Evers […] shows actual cuts to operations spending of less than 2.5%,” Rep. John Nygren (R – Marinette) said in a statement released this week. “Making matters worse, nearly two-thirds of the cuts are being shouldered by the UW System. While Gov. Evers’ initial announcement was promising, this additional information leaves more questions than answers.”

Nygren is the co-chair of the state’s finance committee. He also criticized that no cuts were made to the offices of cabinet members such as Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.

But Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan told CBS 58 that those and other offices have no general purpose revenue coming in and therefore would receive no cuts. On top of that, they have relatively small budgets.

Brennan noted that more action will be needed going forward but it will require bipartisan efforts from the Democratic governor’s office, the leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature as well as the state’s representatives in Congress.

“There’s going to be necessity for there to be collaboration,” Brennan said. “I hope, and on behalf of the governor, we hope and expect that the Legislature, the Legislative leaders are going to be part of that discussion moving forward. Just as I hope they are going to be part of going to Washington, to our federal delegation in making sure we can get the resources needed to mitigate the budget challenges in the months to come.”

While the state is likely to continue cuts, Brennan said the state is prioritizing certain areas in order to preserve services for the state’s residents.

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