College Republicans of the University of Wisconsin-Madison hosted speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, to discuss the “dynamics of Wisconsin’s divided government” and Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed budget Tuesday evening.
Vos felt Evers should not have won his election considering how much former Gov. Scott Walker had done for the state. But because he did, Vos said it is important to work cooperatively on policy issues.
“My job, whether I like it or not, is to figure out areas where we can work together, try to find that common ground, and stand like steel against the things he [supports] that I am deeply opposed to,” Vos said.
Things like the greying of America, how to retain people in Wisconsin to support social programs which provide aid to the elderly and how to increase rural bandwidth Vos said are “common sense” middle ground issues.
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There are certain policies that Vos knows Democrats would never support, so he would never propose them, he said. But when Evers’ presented his and included things like increased spending for BadgerCare — the statewide healthcare system — Vos said he was confused as to why Evers would propose policies not likely to pass.
“I can tell you a few things that are absolutely, positively, not going to happen when the budget gets signed by Gov. Evers,” Vos said. “We are not going to expand welfare. Absolutely, positively zero chance that it’s going to happen.”
Vos, who owns Rojo’s Popcorn based in Burlington, Wisconsin, cited the trouble he has had finding employees as evidence of the booming job market.
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Vos said he was skeptical of the effectiveness of Evers’ budget proposal as it related to unemployment. He feels proposal works against the challenges presented by the shortage of employees Wisconsin is currently facing.
Shifting gears, Vos said the Wisconsin GOP’s priorities at the moment include finding ways to reduce suicide rates, providing clean water for all Wisconsinites and passing the state’s budget. Wisconsin’s high rates of farmer suicide are cause for concern, he said.
The GOP is also concerned with transferring power back to the legislative branch and away from the executive branch after a Dane County court temporarily blocked the“lame-duck” session legislation, Vos said.
“If you want to expand Medicaid, the state’s government-run healthcare program, you think because it’s going to be a billion dollar spending increase, should one person get to decide to spend that billion dollars, or should the legislature vote? ” Vos said.
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Vos also spoke about some of the things that have made him the politician he is today, including one of his teachers, working as a bagger at a grocery store — which gave him the skills to talk to his constituents — and learning that he isn’t always right, Vos said.
Vos also encouraged those in attendance to reach across the aisle and have civil debates with people they disagree with because this will increase bipartisanship.
“You can be as liberal as you want to, I don’t care, you can be wrong!” Vos said. “I should be able to be as conservative as I want to … so, my hope is over time … we become a little bit more social and a little bit more understanding.”