Gov. Tony Evers delivered his State of the State address Tuesday evening to Wisconsin lawmakers and citizens.
In his speech, Evers said the budget set to be introduced in the coming weeks is all about connecting the dots — an idea he has reiterated in other speeches. Quality housing, for example, can connect students with a better quality education.
“The strength of our success is not found solely in fiscal surplus — it’s defined, too, by the number of our kids who will go to school hungry tomorrow,” Evers said.
An investment in today’s youth will yield dividends for generations, according to Evers. As a result, his budget promises two-thirds funding for schools across Wisconsin.
Evers also discussed the need to close the achievement gap for low-income students and students of color. He said his Urban Initiatives programs will empower high-need students by expanding educational opportunities.
“The longer we wait to invest in closing our achievement gap, the wider the gap will get, and the more it will cost us in the long-run,” Evers said.
Evers also said the state is forged by the Wisconsin Idea — a notion that education should inform public policy to improve larger Wisconsin communities. Despite this, Evers recognized that Wisconsin is still among the worst states to raise a black family.
“The realities we face are bigger than me or any political party,” Evers said. “The magnitude of our challenges requires us to put people first because, as I’ve said, that is the promise of our service.”
Evers added that Wisconsin needs to become a leader in innovation, economic development and health care accessibility, describing the state as “a laboratory of democracy.”
Fixing the state’s economy remains a priority for Evers as he advised the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to create an innovation and entrepreneurship committee — an agency he’s previously criticized during the campaign.
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Evers urged the legislature to focus on the will of the people rather than ideological divisions. As governor, he expects to pass legislation with broad support in the spirit of bipartisanship. This includes his new budget.
“We will have discourse and dialogue, but it will not devolve into disrespect,” Evers said. “We will govern with a humble appreciation that the will of the people — our people — is the law of the land.”