In tonight's State of the State speech, Governor Evers recognized several bills that have been passed through bipartisan efforts. He then went on to set an agenda of things that need to be accomplished, including creating a task force on student debt in Wisconsin, making higher education more available to people in Wisconsin without the burden of long-term debt.

On a local note, Governor Evers recognized Julie and John Govin for using their annual corn maze to raise awareness of suicide prevention after losing a family member to suicide. He thanked other citizens for their acts of kindness and bravery.

After reciting the immense size of agriculture in the state's economy, he discussed how we lead the nation in farm bankruptcies, and many farmers are suffering from the President's tariffs. He also called out the comments made recently by Sonny Perdue that the day of small farmers has ended, and farms must get big to survive. He announced a special session of the legislature next week to produce legislation to support agriculture and rural communities. The proposed legislation includes a Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports with a goal of expanding our milk exports to 20% of the national exports. He also supports the expansion of our Farm Center and the UW Extension system to provide more support to farmers locally. He wants to increase our Farm to School program and to start a Farm to Fork program to send our farm products to institutions across the state. Lastly, he wants to increase our support for mental health services in rural areas for farmers.

As a second prong to this program, he would like to form an Office of Rural Prosperity. This will provide resources tailored to rural communities. And as a third prong, he wants to develop long-term strategies for rural areas by creating a Blue Ribbon Commission on Agriculture and Rural Economic Prosperity. This will gather input from throughout the state to make new plans. Many of these items were in the Governor's budget, but were removed by the legislature. Not surprisingly, these announcements were well-received by the Democratic side of the aisle, but not so much by the Republicans.

Fifty of the 78 Wisconsin Counties have passed resolutions asking for non-partisan redistricting. Despite that, the bills to do new redistricting have never come to a vote. Because of that Governor Evers will sign an executive order to create a Non-Partisan Redistricting Commission to draw what the Governor referred to as "The People's Maps". 

He also called for a number of other initiatives, including limiting vaping in the state, removing PFAS contamination from our water, capping the cost of insulin, and removing the dark store property tax loophole.

He closed by asking that we stop re-litigating past issues, and to embrace change. "In Wisconsin, when we move forward, we all go together". 

At the end of his speech, the UW Marching Band walked into the chambers playing On Wisconsin. This was one of the few activities of the evening that brought a strong response from both sides of the aisle.

It is not at all clear that the special session and the other proposed legislation will gain any traction with the Republican-dominated legislature. Certainly, the last special session was a disaster as both houses simply gaveled into the session, and then gaveled out immediately.

Senate President Roger Roth (R-Appleton) gave the Republican rebuttal, largely calling out the economic growth and unemployment in the state under the Republican legislature, saying it is "the Wisconsin Way", particularly hitting the idea that all of this has happened without raising taxes.

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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