My column for the Washington County Daily News is in print and online. Here’s a taste, but be sure to pick up a copy.
While the debate over the state budget was contentious last spring, there was at least one issue on which both Republicans and Democrats agreed. Legislators on both sides of the aisle agreed that the state needs to do more to provide mental health services for people throughout the state. To that end, the state budget increased state funding for mental health services in several areas including spending $15 million for a mental health crisis center in the Chippewa Valley. Gov. Tony Evers’ partial veto of that provision, and the support of Assembly Democrats, tell us a lot about the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2019.
In a state budget, this one item is relatively small. It betrays, however, the priorities of Governor Evers and the Assembly Democrats. Why would they all work to redirect government spending from Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls to Madison? Why would they redirect money intended for a private health care service provider to a government facility? Simple. Politics.
Madison and Dane County were key to Evers’ narrow victory over Republican Scott Walker in 2018. With an impressive turnout of almost 70% — 12 points higher than average — Dane County gave Evers 220,052 votes to propel him into office. Without those votes, Scott Walker would still be in office and Tony Evers knows it. Looking at the statewide electoral map from last year, the entire Chippewa Valley, with the exception of Eau Claire County, voted heavily for Scott Walker.
It is no coincidence that Tony Evers did everything he could to redirect money from areas of the state that supported Walker to reward his supporters in Madison. It was just an added bonus that he could also redirect the money into a government facility instead of a private health care system. Evers cares more about his political supporters in Madison than the people of northwestern Wisconsin who need mental health services. And every Assembly Democrat agrees with Evers.