Gov. Evers delivers 2021 State of the State address

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 3:41 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers delivered his 2021 State of the State address Tuesday night.

Evers, a Democrat, started the virtual address with a moment of silence honoring the more than 5,000 Wisconsinites who’ve died from COVID-19.

“They were moms and dads, brothers and sisters, friends and coworkers, and they are loved and missed by many,” he said.

The Governor then started listing his priorities.

In his 2021-2023 biennial budget, he’s asking for $200 million in broadband infrastructure spending.

“It’s 2021, folks—having access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. Every Wisconsinite across our state should have access to reliable, high-speed internet. Period,” Evers said.

He also announced he’s calling the legislature into a special session to fix the state’s unemployment system, which hasn’t seen major changes in about five decades.

“The bottom line is that our unemployment system isn’t designed to handle the massive numbers of modern days, which has contributed to delays in processing claims, required more time to implement new federal programs, and made it harder to get benefits out the door,” Evers said.

Republicans disagree with the Governor. State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, gave the Republican response to Evers’ speech in the Assembly chamber with some lawmakers in attendance.

He blames the Evers administration and the State Department of Workforce Development for the unemployment system problems, which led to many Wisconsinites going without benefits as they lost their jobs during the pandemic.

“These failures weren’t brought on by ancient systems. They were brought on by a lack of leadership. These failures brought unnecessary hardships to Wisconsin families. The Evers administration owes these families and explanation and, in many cases, an apology,” Vos said.

He also spoke about negotiating a COVID-19 relief bill with the Governor, blaming Evers for the inability for the two sides to reach an agreement.

“Unfortunately, some would think the only way to find common ground is to cave to the Governor’s demands. We will continue to work to reach a consensus as equals but we will never compromise our conservative values in the name of political expedience,” Vos said.

Evers announced Tuesday prior to his speech he’d reached an agreement on a COVID-19 relief package with state Senate Republicans. He called on the Assembly to pass the bill.

To watch both speeches, click here.

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