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Wisconsin Assembly Republicans outline priorities to Evers

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Governor Evers continues to lay out his administration’s priorities during his first week in office. Thursday, Evers visited a DMV office in Wausau with Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Evers’ pick for secretary of the Department of Transportation, Craig Thompson. The governor used the visit to highlight the need for improvement in the state’s transportation systems.

That’s one area where he and state Republicans believe they can find common ground moving forward in a divided government.

On Thursday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said a letter was sent to Governor Evers’ office. It’s signed by every member of the Republican Assembly caucus. The letter points out areas Republicans believe they can find common ground with the governor.


“We want to find ways where we can say let’s pick issues we can work together and show that we can,” Vos told reporters. “As oppose to picking issues that cause a fight and reinforce what people don’t want to hear today which is arguing and complaining.”

The letter includes issues like income tax reductions, enhancing high-speed internet access, guarantees for pre-existing condition coverage, support for K-12 education, investing in infrastructure and addressing the debt level in the state’s transportation fund among other items.

“I think this is a good faith effort to show that we looked at what [Evers] promised and what we believe we can deliver and find ways to do that together,” Vos said.

During his speech to the Wisconsin Bankers’ Association Luncheon on Wednesday, Governor Evers also referenced the need for compromise.

“There are certain things around the issue of education, around the issue of transportation and healthcare where we will need to find common ground,” Evers told the audience.

The state is entering an era of divided government for the first time in eight years. Speaker Vos recognizes that and noted that while he and state Republicans are making an effort to get off on the right foot, there may be challenges ahead.

“We are going to have to say 'yes' plenty of times. That is our job,” Vos said. “We are also going to say 'no' plenty of times because that is also our job.”

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Assembly Republicans delivered what they called a "gesture of our goodwill" to the newly installed Democratic governor on Thursday, outlining some areas where they think they might find common ground.

In a letter delivered to Gov. Tony Evers, the GOP lawmakers said they were trying to be helpful in detailing such areas, including an income tax cut, a school funding increase and a reduction in borrowing to pay for roadwork.

The Republicans also said the first bill they intend to pass is a state-level guarantee that people with pre-existing health conditions can't be denied insurance, which is already guaranteed by the federal health care law that Republicans have strenuously opposed since its inception during Barack Obama's presidency. The Assembly passed a pre-existing conditions bill in 2017 but it died in the Senate and on Monday, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he didn't want to "overpromise" by suggesting it would fare better this year.

Evers has many of the priorities outlined by the Republicans but supports different approaches to reaching those goals. For example, he wants to cut income taxes by 10 percent but wants to compensate for it by reducing a tax break for corporations, which Republicans oppose.

Evers has proposed increasing spending on K-12 education by 10 percent, or $1.4 billion. A bipartisan task force released a report last week that also called for significant increases in funding, but it did not say by how much.

Evers, that task force and Assembly Republicans all say they want the state to provide two-thirds funding for schools, which would increase overall state school aid by about $130 million a year.

Evers' spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, didn't immediately reply to a message seeking reaction to the Republicans' letter.

Some of the other Republican priorities include:

— Enhancing high-speed internet access.

— Expanding the SeniorCare prescription drug program to cover flu shots.

— Working to reduce homelessness.

— Providing more options to reduce the cost of child care for working parents.

— Increasing access to clean water. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos earlier this month formed a clean water task force following reports of contaminated wells in southwestern Wisconsin.

— Investing more in state-owned properties.

— Doing more to attract and retain highly qualified state employees.

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