Evers sees transportation as top issue for potential compromise

Gov. Tony Evers says transportation is the top issue where he could see compromise as he prepares to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The guv spoke in Madison yesterday at the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s annual Economic Forecast Luncheon. In addressing attendees, Evers highlighted the importance of crossing political divides on several of the top issues of his campaign.

“I, as governor, want you all to be successful. That’s the bottom line; if you’re successful then the people of the state of Wisconsin will be successful,” he said. “But there are certain things around issues of education, around transportation and health care and other issues, that will mean that we are going to find common ground.”

He says all three of those issues are “exceedingly important” both for the banking industry and the overall economic health of the state.

At one point, Evers singled out Sen. Howard Marklein from a front table, and listed a number of areas where his interests could align with those of the Spring Green Republican. That includes wanting good public schools and higher education systems; ensuring the safety of roads; and making health care affordable and accessible.

“All those things are going to impact the economy of the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “Once we get together and find common ground on these issues, our state will be in a better place.”

He also called for more transparency in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, but said he wouldn’t seek to change the structure of WEDC in his forthcoming budget.

“Clearly, the Legislature made this kind of 9-month period where Evers gets off his training wheels and becomes competent enough to work with the WEDC,” he said, noting it was a tongue-in-cheek observation. “In the meantime, [WEDC CEO Mark Hogan] and I will meet occasionally and talk about issues.”

Hogan was in attendance at the luncheon.

The guv said he and Hogan agree economic development should be undertaken on a statewide basis in all 72 counties.

On the transportation front, Evers said the state needs to find solutions for its current “unsustainable path” of borrowing for road funding. And he framed poor rural internet access as part of the greater infrastructure problem facing the state.

The guv highlighted the key role both roads and the internet play in facilitating modern businesses.

He also connected the issue of health care cost to startups in the state, saying he met with a group of diverse young Milwaukee entrepreneurs on the campaign trail. When asked about what the state can do for them, the entrepreneurs all pointed to affordable health care.

“I wasn’t surprised by their answer,” he said. “That was the first and only thing every single one of them said to me … and that’s something we’re going to focus on going forward in this administration.”

That will include convincing the Legislature to accept more federal dollars for health programs, he said.