Gov. Tony Evers tonight will lay down another marker in the tax cut debate, urging the Legislature to “do it responsibly” to avoid a spike in debt or a cut in priorities such as public schools and public safety.

Ahead of his fifth State of the State address, Evers’ office released excerpts of his planned remarks. Coming off a successful reelection bid and with state coffers flush with cash, Evers will proclaim Wisconsin is in the “greatest fiscal position in state history.”

But he will urge prudence in how the state uses a surplus that’s nearing $7 billion at the end of this fiscal year.

“Wisconsinites have worked too hard and have gone through too much for us to return to austerity,” Evers will say, according to the excerpts. “Now is the time to stay prudent, to save smart, and to be bold with reasonable investments to keep building a lasting legacy of prosperity.”

Evers’ speech comes on the heels of Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville, circulating a plan to move Wisconsin to a flat tax over the next four years. GOP backers have touted the proposal as a way to make Wisconsin more competitive with other states in attracting talent and businesses. Evers and Dems have knocked it as a giveaway to the wealthy.

During his reelection bid, Evers called for a $600 million tax cut aimed at the middle class and has said he will include the plan in the budget he releases next month.

“When we deliver tax relief — and we will deliver tax relief — we’re going to do it responsibly by ensuring we can keep taxes low now and into the future, and we’ll do it without driving our state into debt or causing devastating cuts to priorities like public schools and public safety,” Evers will say.

He will also preview how he wants to spend some of the state’s surplus. Evers will say he’s going to deliver on his election promise to make a “historic investment in our kids and our schools.”

That includes $20 million to increase literary-related programming and implement new reading practices. He also will tout a “Do the Math” initiative designed to help students develop the skills to make wise budgeting and financial decisions.

Evers also will lay out three priorities for his coming budget: investing in the middle class, maintaining the economy’s momentum, and getting more talent into the state’s workforce. The latter includes reducing barriers to work and recruiting new workers to Wisconsin, according to the excerpts.

He also will use the speech as a bit of a victory lap after securing his second term in November by 3.4 percentage points. Among other things, he will tout the state’s budget, both the surplus that’s expected to end this fiscal year and the $1.7 billion on top of that in the state’s reserve fund.

That will allow the state to continue making needed investments.

“We have roads and bridges to fix, schools to fund, kids to support, communities to keep safe, water to keep clean, and a future we’ve built together after years of neglect that, today, we must work to protect,” Evers will say.

Read the excerpts here.

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