The Legislature’s top Republicans this morning slammed Gov. Tony Evers and his budget priorities as “out of touch” and “way too liberal” as they credited their party for combatting those initiatives and protecting key GOP priorities.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who spoke on a legislative panel hosted by Madison talk show host Brian Schimming, also applauded the Joint Finance Committee for pulling many of the guv’s priorities from the budget.
“We are truly the roadblock to a complete 180 from where Wisconsin has been over the last eight years,” said Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.
Vos, R-Rochester, said the GOP Legislature has “lots of opportunities” to highlight the contrast between it and Evers, adding Republican lawmakers are better representing the will of the people.
He added Evers’ budget took “all of the wacky ideas of people who live in Dane County and wear Birkenstocks,” including looking to roll back GOP welfare overhaul laws and drug testing requirements.
The two also addressed Evers’ plan to take the federal Medicaid expansion dollars, one of the proposals that were stripped from the budget earlier this month.
Vos, pointing to the “tremendous economy,” said the state doesn’t “need to expand welfare” because of it.
“As Gov. Evers is out there saying, ‘Take the money,’ I want to promise you that it will be over our dead bodies,” Vos said.
Fitzgerald, though, called the Medicaid expansion a “moving target,” adding the state would need to “take another look at” the possibility every biennium.
Still, he added Wisconsin under GOP control is at a place where he said other states that take the expansion are looking to be, saying officials can “continue to make the case on” that in future years.
The two also complained about the relationship Republicans have with Evers. Fitzgerald said while there was collaboration with former Dem Gov. Jim Doyle, that didn’t exist with Evers.
Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the guv has told Fitzgerald and Vos they should work with his chief of staff, Maggie Gau — Evers’ former campaign manager.
“That directive wasn’t confusing to them when the chief of staff was a man,” she said. “Vos and Fitzgerald are clearly uncomfortable or simply unwilling to work with a leadership team made up entirely of women.”
Vos responded to the dig with a tweet pointing out his chief of staff, communications direction and policy director are all women.
“Evers staff – Clueless,” Vos tweeted.
On the budget and Medicaid expansion, Baldauff said Republicans are ignoring “the will of the people” in their opposition to those priorities.
“The governor has proposed The People’s Budget, anchored by the $1.6 billion in new federal funds made available through Medicaid expansion, that invests in healthcare, education, criminal justice reform, and infrastructure,” she said. “We know that these are the issues that people care about.”
Looking to 2020, Fitzgerald called that cycle for the state Senate “more critical than any other cycle I’ve presided over as leader.”
He said the chamber would target three seats next year, including the 32nd Senate District, currently held by Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.
Vos noted the Assembly in 2018 lost one seat “to a woman who’s going to be a one-termer,” Rep. Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa, in the 14th Assembly District.
He also addressed those who attribute the GOP majority in the Legislature to gerrymandered maps, saying it’s “really is an insult to the hardworking men and women” who work in their districts to get elected.