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Watch Now: In budget address, Gov. Tony Evers seeks to address economic fallout of COVID-19

Watch Now: In budget address, Gov. Tony Evers seeks to address economic fallout of COVID-19

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Gov. Tony Evers' 2021-23 biennial budget comes with a mix of new proposals aimed at addressing the economic fallout of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, along with resurrected measures included in his first budget attempt.

However, the Democratic governor's budget, which includes liberal wish list items ranging from Medicaid expansion to marijuana legalization, faces a considerable uphill battle in the GOP-led Legislature. While fears that the pandemic might have devastating implications for state revenue have been largely unrealized, the coronavirus' impact on businesses, unemployment and the state's education and health care sectors is impossible to ignore.

Republicans who lead the state's powerful budget committee have already signaled plans to be cautious with state spending. Evers' budget includes several items Republicans have opposed, setting up another likely budget battle. The 2021-23 biennial budget is due by July 1.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates state general fund tax collections at the end of the 2021-23 biennium will be almost $1.2 billion higher than what was projected by the state departments of Administration and Revenue on Nov. 20. In addition, the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum late last year predicted the state could be coming up on the most challenging budget session in a decade, with spending projected to exceed revenues by about $373.1 million — without taking into account Medicaid costs and new spending requests from state agencies.

This story will be updated.

Fave 5: State government reporter Mitchell Schmidt shares his top stories of 2020

Choosing my five favorite stories of 2020 seems almost paradoxical.

This year has felt like one exhausting slog of pandemic stories, state Legislature updates and, oh yeah, a presidential election thrown in for good measure. Thanks to a split government, there's been no shortage of politically-charged stories here in Wisconsin and the partisan divide has, maybe unsurprisingly, felt as wide as ever throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

I don't know if "favorite" is the best way to describe them, but here are a few stories from 2020 that stood out to me:

Back in March, Gov. Tony Evers issued the state's first public health emergency in response to the then-emerging pandemic. At the time, Wisconsin had reported eight total cases of COVID-19.

As the pandemic progressed, positive cases and deaths climbed and state lawmakers battled over the appropriate response. In May, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Evers' stay-at-home order, a decision that still resonates today with the state's coronavirus-related measures.

One story I was particularly excited about before I officially started working for the State Journal was the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. However, like most things this year, the pandemic drastically altered that plan.

In non-pandemic news, the state in October formally denied billions of dollars in state tax credits to Foxconn Technology Group — a story we managed to get before any other outlet in the state through records requests and sourcing.

Lastly, in November I worked on a story about how GOP-drawn legislative maps once again disproportionately benefited Republicans in state elections. Wisconsin is headed toward another legal battle next year when the next batch of 10-year maps are drawn.

Feel free to read my top stories below, or check out my other state government articles from this year, (by my count, there have been more than 300 so far).

Also, thanks to all the subscribers out there. This year has been challenging on so many people, so your support is so much appreciated.


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