A New Day in Wisconsin

by Phil Anderson

“What’s best for our kids, is what’s best for our state and our democracy.”  
Governor elect Tony Evers, 2018

“Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.” Governor Scott Walker talking to billionaire campaign contributor Diane Hendricks about getting rid of unions and making Wisconsin a “completely red state,” January 18, 2011 (emphasis added)

“It is a new day in Wisconsin.” Tony Evers after being elected governor

The contrast in priorities between Governor-elect Tony Evers and outgoing Governor Scott Walker is stark and informative. The contrast is illustrated by the quotes above. Evers is coming in with a positive program based on what is good for our children. Walker began his administration assuring his largest campaign contributor that he had a plan to divide people and bust unions. It is a contrast between concern for the people of Wisconsin and concern for advancing a prescribed ideological agenda, and your own political future. 

Evers is not just repeating his campaign slogans. He has already begun creating a “new day” for how Wisconsin will be governed. His transition team is creating a more open, inclusive, and democratic process that involves citizens rather than dividing them. He is already moving on issues important to average citizens like school funding, cost of healthcare, and the well being of children.

Governor Evers wants to end the divisiveness of the last eight years. He wants to bring people together to solve problems. To do this he has established several advisory councils. The “What is Good for Kids” citizen advisory council will advise on policies and issues related to families and children. It will deal with policies of the Departments of Children and Families, Public Instruction, and Health Services. The Health Care Council will bring experienced voices from around the state to help put together a comprehensive health care plan to increase access to health care coverage and bring down healthcare costs. Evers says, “Expanding access to affordable health care for Wisconsin residents is a top priority for our administration.”  

These advisory groups are highly diverse and bring together experts, leaders, advocates, and other stakeholders from all over the state to advise his transition team. They will help prepare budget proposals and policy priorities. Evers is also interested in suggestions from the general pubic. You can submit comments at “Share Your Ideas” on the transition website.

This open democratic process seeks expert and citizen involvement to guide public policy. It is a fact based, deliberative process that seeks bi-partisan solutions. This is in sharp contrast to the the ideological driven agenda pushed by the Walker administration and Republican controlled legislature. They took their guidance from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an out-of-state, extreme right, Koch brothers think tank. Their agenda was implemented over huge public protest – the largest public demonstrations in Wisconsin history. They limited and manipulated public hearings to avoid public input and limit opposition. They violated open meeting laws and crammed legislation though literally in the dark of night. These tactics demonstrated a disregard for democratic process and disrespect for opposition elected representatives and the people of Wisconsin.  

Now the Republican legislative leadership is continuing these undemocratic tactics. They are continuing to put ideology above the public good. In another sharp contrast with good, democratic governing, the state legislature is calling a special session of the legislature to rush through some 40 actions before Governor Evers can take office. They want to change the authority and powers of the governor and the attorney general. Both of these are independent constitutional offices. This is a blatant, desperate effort to hamstring governor elect Evers and prevent him from being successful. 

This is also an outrageous attempt to sabotage the will of the people. Evers was elected because a majority of the public wanted a change from the polices of the last eight years. Rather than accepting this decision by the voters, the Republican legislature is attempting to sabotage the results of the election. This is an abuse of power that should not be allowed to happen.

The details of the Republican actions prove that their intent is not honorable or in the best interests of Wisconsin. There was no mention of a special session prior to Evers being elected. There is no pressing, important legislation that must be finished immediately. There is no impending crisis requiring immediate action. There is only the inauguration of a new Democratic governor.  

Originally the special session was to limit the power of the governor elect. Then limiting the authority of the attorney general was added. Then some 40 actions were announced weakening the executive branch and strengthening legislative control over a wide variety of appointments and decisions. According to news reports, these 40 proposals were announced  Friday, November 29th at 4:30 PM. The special session is scheduled for Monday, November 31. Public hearings on these 40 items will begin on the same day Monday afternoon with voting expected on Tuesday. Obviously this timeline does not allow the public (or even the legislators) to know what is being done. Obviously it is not intended to allow any meaningful public comment. This is a blatant power grab by the legislature.  

If you are not outraged you are not paying attention. Hopefully public outrage will scuttle the legislature’s efforts to subvert democracy. By the time this article is printed it we will know if the public cared or had time to react. Either way the public has to stay involved and support  Governor Evers’ efforts.

We do need a new day in Wisconsin. We need to reclaim Wisconsin’s reputation for clean, honest government. We need to have a more civil and respectful political discourse. We need leadership puts people before party. This is what is best for our kids, it is what is best for our state, and our democracy