Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 21, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — With very little fanfare and scant public notice, Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill Wednesday that will put an end to the Miller Park sales tax.
Why so little PR? Is the tax-and-spend Democrat feeling glum over signing the execution papers for a tax — a tax that has grabbed up nearly $600 million over the past 24 years?
Capitol insiders tell Empower Wisconsin the real reason Evers has been so shy with some bill signings is that he and his liberal team can’t stand the thought of recognizing Republican legislation, even if represents a bipartisan win.
“For a guy who claims he wants to be so bipartisan, this governor and his staff seem to have no interest in doing these bipartisan, ceremonial” events, said Mike Mikalsen, spokesman for state Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater).
“It’s a whole new world,” said another legislative aide, referencing Evers’ lack of interest in promoting bipartisan legislation.
Insiders say the Evers comms team is almost as bad at announcing such bill signings as the administration is at following state Open Records law. On several occasions, the governor’s office has sent out last-minute notices to not only the press but to the lawmakers who worked on the bill, Mikalsen and others said.
The Miller Park bill was co-authored by Sen. Van Wanggaard, who heralded Wednesday as a “great day for taxpayers in southeastern Wisconsin.”
“As someone who has been working to end the tax for the last 9 years, I’m glad that we now have a date — certain end date for the tax — August 31, 2020. Hallelujah! The tax is dead,” the Racine Republican said in a press release.
The bill had broad bipartisan support, including from Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee).
“We finally have a Governor who is open to listening to the wishes of the people,” Carpenter said.
But Evers certainly wasn’t about showcasing his support for the Republican-led legislation.
Mikalsen said Evers in recent months has been going out of his way to pick fights with Republicans in the Legislature — from small squabbles and cold shoulders to full-blown political brawls like the governor’s special session on gun-control bills. And a recent exclusive story in Empower Wisconsin may provide some answers as to why.
“The timing of his meeting with extremist millionaires and billionaires last week was interesting,” the legislative aide said, pointing to Evers’ trip last week to D.C. to hobnob with the big-donor liberal interests at the Democracy Alliance’s fall investment conference.
Evers and two other Midwest Democrats were tapped as the warm-up act for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to a Democracy Alliance confidential agenda, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The session was titled, “Government in the Heart of America, from Red to Blue, Advancing a Progressive Agenda.”
As the Free Beacon reported, Democracy Alliance’s three-day event was held at D.C.’s five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel to “plot its upcoming agenda leading up to the 2020 elections.”
“He’s been picking fights so he can look like this liberal radical to the big donors,” Mikalsen said.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that Evers, who recently described Republican lawmakers as “bastards” and “amoral,” doesn’t want much, if anything to do, with his opponents in the first branch.