Evers calls special session to invest in education, GOP lawmakers to attempt veto override

NOW: Evers calls special session to invest in education, GOP lawmakers to attempt veto override

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Democrats and Republicans have dueling agendas planned at the state Capitol Tuesday, but both are unlikely to pass. 

Republican lawmakers will attempt to override Governor Tony Evers' veto on a bill that would eliminate a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit. Meanwhile, Gov. Tony Evers is seeking to undercut their plans by calling a special session to invest $550 million in K-12 schools and the UW System.

Both plans are expected to fail as Republicans are five votes short needed to override a veto. At the same time, Gov. Evers attempt to pour more money into schools is also likely to be unsuccessful as GOP leaders have largely ignored the governor's calls for a special session.

Republicans and the state's chamber of commerce for months have argued the weekly unemployment bonus is worsening the worker shortage in Wisconsin. The extra funds are set to expire in September but Republicans will try again to get rid of them. 

In a video message, Gov. Evers acknowledged he was aware of Republicans' plans.

"If Republicans have time to come into session just to try and override my vetoes, then they sure as heck have time to come into session to do what’s best for our kids," Evers said. "That’s why I’m calling a special session of the Legislature for tomorrow while they will already be here at the Capitol, so they can use that time to also make the meaningful investments in our kids and our schools that they should have made in the budget."

Evers' plan would invest $550 million -- $440 would be directed to K-12 school and $110 million would be set aside for UW System and Wisconsin's technical colleges.

Education groups celebrated the announcement after many expressed disappointment over how much schools received in the state budget.   

Schools will get an additional $128 million in the next spending plan, but it doesn't place limits on how much revenue districts can raise -- resulting in a flat increase. 

Republican co-chairs on the budget committee who crafted the state budget fired back at Evers' special session, stating school districts received "massive" amounts of federal funding. 

"The Legislature’s budget, which [Evers] signed, accounted for the massive federal funds for schools, made significant investments in our students' education and respected taxpayers," said Rep. Mark Born and Sen. Howard Marklien. "It was a good budget and we continue to stand by our decisions.”

Regardless of the pushback, some Democrats are remaining hopeful. 

"Schools are not being funded the way they need to be," said Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa). "Can we come back tomorrow and put the schools at ease, put the families at ease, because they didn't receive what they expected in the state budget and they are trying to function without that money."

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Gov. Tony Evers on Monday, July 26, announced he signed Executive Order #127, calling a special session of the Legislature tomorrow, Tues., July 27, 2021, at 9:01 a.m. to do what's best for our kids and our schools.

Earlier this month, Gov. Evers signed the 2021-23 biennial budget. While the bipartisan bill delivered on the governor's promise to cut taxes by 10 percent for middle-income families with one of the largest tax cuts in Wisconsin state history, the governor also noted in his veto message there were areas where the budget failed to deliver, including making meaningful investments in our kids and our schools.

According to a news release, in light of the budget's shortcomings, Gov. Evers announced more than $100 million in new funds for public schools outside of the biennial budget in recognition of the fact that districts had spent funds from their base budgets on pandemic-related expenses. At that time, the governor called on legislators to do more than the bare minimum for our kids and schools and reaffirmed his intent to engage the Legislature in the weeks and months ahead to use these available resources to address the unfinished business left by the budget, including meaningfully investing in our kids and schools.

In addition to the more than $100 million for public schools announced at the time of signing the budget, the governor used his broad veto authority to issue 50 partial vetoes to improve the budget document, leaving additional state resources readily available to make investments in areas where Republicans failed to make meaningful investments through the budget, including K-12 education. Gov. Evers used his veto pen to stop a $550 million transfer to the budget stabilization fund—which already holds a record high balance to ensure state resources would be readily available to invest in our kids and our schools.

Using those state funds already available through the governor's vetoes, Gov. Evers is calling the Legislature into a special session to take up his proposal, LRB-4297, which is available here, that would invest more than $500 million in Wisconsin's kids, schools, and students.

  • $440 million for K-12 schools
  • $240 million for increasing per-pupil aid by $146 per student
  • $200 million into special education aids
  • $110 million for higher education
  • $90 million for the University of Wisconsin System
  • $20 million for the Wisconsin Technical College System

Gov. Evers’ announcement comes as late last Friday Republicans in the Legislature quietly indicated the Assembly would likely be meeting in a surprise extraordinary session—a convening called by the Legislature to meet outside of the regular session schedule—tomorrow, July 27, 2021, at 9:01 a.m. The Legislature otherwise isn’t scheduled to meet in regular session until late September. Rather than coming in to address the unfinished business left by the budget and ensure our kids and schools have the supports they need heading into another school year during a global pandemic, according to reporting by WisPolitics.com, the Wisconsin State Assembly intends to be in extraordinary session tomorrow, possibly for the purpose of overriding some of the governor’s vetoes but Republicans have also signaled they might take up additional bills in the extraordinary session as well. At the time of this release, Republican legislators have yet to provide details about what veto overrides or other legislation will be on the extraordinary session calendar in the Assembly tomorrow.

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