MI Instant Analysis: Governor Evers Gives 2023 State Of The State Address

Governor Tony Evers gave his 5th State of the State address Tuesday night, which ended up being more of a mini budget address than an assessment of how the state is faring.

As a teaser for his spending plan, due in 3 weeks, there were no surprises.

Evers made a few digs about the Walker era – a time he recounts as marked by crumbling roads, poorly performing schools, an impoverished UW system and no focus on climate change – then bragged that under his leadership Wisconsin has morphed from misery to prosperity where we now are in the best fiscal position in history.

His claim is based on the budget surplus which – make no mistake – doesn’t represent prosperity; it represents over taxation.  Wisconsinites paid $6.6 billion more than was needed to run our bloated state government.  That’s roughly $1,100 for every man, woman and child in the state.  And in a time of generationally high inflation, when consumers are paying more than $5 for a dozen eggs, the governor, and far too many elected officials along with him, are salivating at the prospect of spending those dollars that would make a world of difference in family budgets.

Evers sees the surplus as a slush fund, one he is going to spend (along with additional funds from new taxes, tax hikes and federal funds) to grow government.  The governor said he doesn’t want bigger government; he wants government that spends more money and does more things.  What does he want to spend that money on?

Public Schools

  • He didn’t put a dollar amount on the “historic” spending increase he plans, but DPI has asked for about $2.5 billion more, and DPI is calling that “full funding” so it’s unlikely he will provide less than that.
  • He did call out $20 million for literacy programming for schools.  That’s around $47,000 per school district, before the DPI skim, which is less than most schools are paying their Diversity Equity and Inclusion Administrators to push CRT-based instruction in schools.
  • Another $270 million will go into a permanent program to make schools – many of which are already cutting parents out of their children’s critical health care needs and problems – into mental health care providers for every student.
    • $36 million (about 13%) of this will be to “reimburse” school staff  who “assist” students with mental health issues.  Perhaps this is a targeted fund for the “I’m your Mom now!” teachers who deserve extra cash for supplanting parental involvement.

Gov. Evers tried once again to convince parents and taxpayers that we have a top 10 school system even though 60 percent of our children are failing English Language Arts and Math. Less than a third of our children are operating at grade level in English Language Arts and Math.

Grade level.

Despite what Governor Evers will say, our dismal academic achievement numbers are not the result of a lack of resources. Wisconsin taxpayers have handed over to K12 education an extra $5 billion dollars since 2013. 

Local Governments

  • Local governments, which have been deluged with pandemic monies, look to be the biggest winners this session.  Evers proposes sending an increase of 1 cent for every dollar subject to sales tax, to local governments.
    • While some are placing this number at $500 million per year, 20% of 2022 sales tax collections would be $1.4 billion.
  • This effectively shifts billions out of the general fund – used to fund everything from schools to Medicaid to higher education and prisons, and sends it to local governments who have been spending their covid cash on things like skate parks, artificial turf, and LGBTQ kids library books.
  • Sales tax collections have doubled since 2000; this is a huge and quickly growing revenue stream.

Health Care

    • Another $230 million targeted to mental health and drug abuse programs, much of which seems to be expanding Medicaid programs and continuing programs begun with pandemic funds.
      • Some of this funding seems to come from taxes on (legalized) marijuana

Child Care

  • $340 million to the Child Care Counts program
  • $30 million childcare and caregiver tax credits


  • $106 million ($100 million of which goes to local governments) and funds 11 new DNR staff


“I welcome the Governor’s sentiments on PFAS, but his words ring hollow as his administration continues to authorize spreading PFAS-laden biosolids at more than 100,000 parts per trillion on thousands of acres of farmland across Wisconsin. Plans to spend millions on cleaning up wells he is knowingly contaminating isn’t a plan and doesn’t solve our problems.”

Wisconsin State Senator Eric Wimberger (R-Green Bay)


  • $100 million for Workforce Innovation Grants
  • $50 million to increase the healthcare workforce
  • $20 million to recruit more teachers
  • $10 million for clean energy job training
  • $10 million for the nurse educator program
    • It’s worth noting that there is an already-acute shortage of nurses which is projected to grow, but Evers’ investment is the same as for nebulous “clean energy” jobs.  Training nurses who save lives or training solar panel installers…
  • $50 million to continue the pandemic aid funded Mainstreet Bounceback program
  • $7 million to the Medical College of Wisconsin for a Psychiatry Residency program (MCW gets another $7.5 million for their program which “supports evidence-informed activities to prevent violence” as well.)


While he tried to spin all of this new spending as “needed investments” rather than a massive increase in the size and scope of government, keep in mind that Gov. Evers first two budgets contained historic increases in government spending.

Check back soon for more analysis.