Evers will re-affirm call for two-thirds funding, urge lawmakers to fix economy in State of the State speech

Gov. Tony Evers tonight will re-affirm his call for the state to again pick up two-thirds of the costs for K-12 education and plans to tell lawmakers the “investment we make in our kids today will yield dividends for generations,” according to excerpts released this afternoon.

Evers also will call for lawmakers to strive for an economy “that works for all of us” and will tell them he expects the Legislature to work off his budget rather than going it alone.

The state is funding 65.4 percent of K-12 education in the 2018-19 fiscal year, and the cost to return to two-thirds funding depends on a number of factors. That includes whether it would be accomplished through general aids, which are based on a district’s wealth, or other means.

Still, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau said if the state had wanted to hit two-thirds funding in the current fiscal year through general school aids, it would’ve required about an additional $140 million.

“Connecting the dots means recognizing that what’s best for our kids is best for our state,” Evers will say.

The guv is scheduled to deliver the address at 7 p.m.

Along with discussing education, Evers will say “fixing” the state’s economy remains a priority, adding that’s why he directed the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to create a committee focused on supporting small businesses, seeding capital funds and technology development.

Republicans have touted a record 11 months with unemployment at or below 3 percent. But Evers will say there’s “more to an economy than counting job creation. And the state of our state is more than our unemployment rate.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said they were perplexed by Evers’ planned comments about the economy.

“I’m not sure what he’s talking about,” Fitzgerald said. “The economy is stronger now than it’s been in the 24 years that I’ve been here.”

Vos also noted a series of tax cuts under Republicans over the past eight years.

“I think Tony Evers needs to get out of his Madison bubble and actually look at the balance of the state, where things are very, very good,” Vos said.

Evers also will lay down some markers for the Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans.

He will say he expects lawmakers to focus on important priorities such as an economy that “works for all of us,” more money for schools, and better roads and infrastructure, rather than being “distracted by division and preventing us from working together to get things done.”

Evers also will say he expects legislation that arrives on his desk will have broad bipartisan support and issue a warning to the Legislature after GOP leaders have discussed ignoring the guv’s budget and doing their own.

Instead, he’ll say he expects “the Legislature to take up the budget I crafted by and with the people of our state.”

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