Evers kicks off statewide budget tour at UW-Green Bay

People gathered in UW-Green Bay's Phoenix Rooms for Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Lt. Gov.-elect Mandela Barnes statewide 'Building the People's Budget' Tour on December 11, 2018. (WLUK image)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Ahead of putting together his first budget as governor, Tony Evers kicked off a statewide tour in Green Bay Tuesday night.

If you were part of the crowd packed into the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's Phoenix Rooms, you likely are passionate about something being in the next state budget.

“I would like to see equitable funding for my students,” said Jessica Galarneau, a music teacher at Danz Elementary School in Green Bay. “I would like to see more mental health services. I would like to see the end of vouchers.”

“I came here because I want the governor to put restoring drivers licenses for immigrant families in the state budget,” said Karina Sanchez, a member of Green Bay’s chapter of Voces De La Frontera.

After a few brief introductions, people were split into small groups to talk about their passions. There were groups for healthcare, education, workforce, criminal justice reform, and energy and environment.

“We're not doing this just for symbolic purposes,” said Evers. “What they're talking about will be listened to and certainly most of it will be part of our budget.”

Republicans in attendance weren't convinced.

“I don't think voices are really going to be taken down except for in notes and that's what I don't like about these things,” said Eric Wimberger, a former Republican candidate for state Legislature.

Evers briefly sat in at each listening group. He says his budget will likely reflect the items he campaigned on.

“Our hope obviously is to keep taxes at a reasonable level and hopefully not raise them at all, but there is lots of needs out there,” said Evers. “You're hearing them.”

“This is what democracy looks like,” said State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).

“If we're all willing to accept a half loaf, we might get somewhere,” said State Rep. John Macco (R-Ledgeview).

Similar listening sessions are also going to be held in Wausau, La Crosse, and Milwaukee.

The governor typically unveils his budget plan at an address at the Capitol in February.

The two-year budget cycle starts over on July 1.

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