Evers, GOP agree on spending cuts but state response remains contentious

NOW: Evers, GOP agree on spending cuts but state response remains contentious

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – The Evers administration announced Wednesday the state will move to reduce operational spending by five percent citing the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the state’s economy.

“This is a first step,” Governor Evers said in a media briefing Wednesday. The governor added that the decision was a difficult one but that it will help the state be in a better position in the future. “Cutting the operations budgets by five percent is approximately $70 million in savings which is important for us as a government going forward.”

The move was announced earlier by Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan. Republicans, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester), voiced approval of the cuts. Vos said in a statement, “I applaud the fiscally prudent action by Secretary Brennan. While we don’t know the complete picture for the state’s finances yet, we know it’s not going to be good. This is a smart, proactive move by the administration.”

It’s a rare moment of agreement between the two sides which are currently locked in a legal battle over the governor’s extension of the Safer at Home order. The lawsuit by the GOP is currently being considered by the state Supreme Court.

Republicans want more of a say in the state’s response to the pandemic but Evers said today that the lawsuit does not help the matter.

“I threw my plan out there and we’re implementing it and if they have a plan let’s talk about it. That’s how negotiations work,” Evers said. “You come in with some proposals and you hash it out. Hashing it out in the Supreme Court isn’t particularly helpful unless you’re a lawyer making money off of it.”

More pressure is expected to mount on the administration this week. On Thursday, the Assembly will hold an informational session where the state’s largest business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, will be presenting their plan to begin the process of reopening businesses as early at next week.

In a statement announcing the hearing, Vos said the, “goal is to begin bipartisan discussions on a safe and gradual reopening plan for Wisconsin. We look forward to working with the governor, health experts and business owners to help the state recover from these difficult times.”

No health experts or officials will be speaking at the hearing, but WMC said that they consulted with health experts when formulating their plan.

The informational hearing is scheduled for noon on Thursday, April 30. 

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