Now that he doesn’t have to worry about re-election, Governor Evers used his second inaugural address to outline a radical left-wing agenda that he couldn’t be honest about before.
Jan. 4, 2023
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell
At least Governor Evers doesn’t need to pretend anymore. A mere 18 months after signing and then taking credit for legislative Republicans’ tax-cutting budget, Evers—now safely past his first and likely only re-election bid—delivered an inaugural address on Tuesday that was at long last honest about his far-left agenda.
“We need generational, transformative improvements,” he pledged, listing among them abortion on demand, full marijuana legalization, climate change spending, and, of course, a massive increase in entitlement spending.
“Our state and our country’s histories are punctuated by moments just like this one—moments where we have the chance to do the right thing,” Evers said, “not for ourselves—but for each other.”
Doing the right thing will naturally prove costly, and Evers telegraphed that he plans on spending every cent of Wisconsin’s $6.6 billion budget surplus on his pet projects and all but dared Republicans to stop him.
“I am not naïve enough to believe that 100 percent of the people who cast their ballot in November agree with me on every issue—that’s probably generous. Depending on the issue, it’s probably closer to only 60, 70, 80 percent or so, based on the latest Marquette Poll,” he crowed, conveniently forgetting that he was elected with 51 percent of the vote and Republicans increased their record majorities in both the Assembly and Senate.
Wisconsin voted for divided government, primarily to control the Evers Administration’s radical impulses. This is, after all, the same governor who proposed $1 billion in tax increases during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and early days of the inflation crisis that followed it.
By vetoing that monstrosity of a budget and instead writing their own, Republicans saved taxpayers from a fiscal nightmare (and provided them with $1 billion in tax cuts), but also may have inadvertently saved Evers from political catastrophe. When he suddenly reversed course in mid-2019 and signed the Republican budget just weeks after threatening to veto it in its entirety, Evers was able to fool gullible voters into believing that he was a moderate compromiser.
Anyone who had been paying attention knew better. Evers proposed billion-dollar tax hikes in each of his two budget proposals, and he all but promised in his inaugural address that he would again, this time offsetting some of the cost of his radicalism with the federal COVID relief funds that built the state’s budget surplus in the first place.
This is taxpayer money that deserves to be returned to taxpayers in the form of tax relief. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has already signaled that he wants even larger tax cuts in the upcoming biennial budget, something Evers can now finally be honest about opposing.
Evers doesn’t see this money as belonging to taxpayers, but rather to government—and government can and should do with it what it likes. That means the best darn racial equity seminars and kindergarten drag shows that other people’s money can buy.
These probably won’t make his list of spending proposals in next month’s budget address as they aren’t the issues that 60, 70, 80 percent of Wisconsinites support, but they are what Republicans should keep in mind as they prepare for a third budget battle.
Evers is unencumbered by political considerations and mistakenly believes he has a mandate for more reckless spending than this state has ever seen. The only thing standing in his way are Republicans who must always remember that they have a mandate of their own—to stop him.