Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 4, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — A record $82 billion biennial budget wasn’t nearly enough for Gov. Tony Evers.
Now the Democrat’s administration wants to add another 60 positions to a bloated state government with more than 71,000 employees.
But the Republican-controlled Legislature played goalie again, stopping Evers’ latest grow-government slap shot.
In late September, Joel Brennan, secretary of the Department of Administration, requested millions of dollars in funding to fill new jobs at the departments of Revenue and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, as well as the Public Service Commission.
Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said no dice.
The Republican-led Legislature has limited government hiring over the last eight years to help shrink the size of state government. The lawmakers told Brennan that there are plenty of vacancies that could be filled — some 4,000 — before new positions are created.
“Given the large number of vacancies across state government and the broad authority state law gives state agencies to recommend abolishing positions, we plan to work with you to limit the need to create new position authority,” the letter states. “Only in extraordinary situations will new positions without offsets be created.”
Capitol sources say Evers’ team has been trying to go around the Legislature to expand the bureaucracy. He was clearly not happy with the record amount of budget money passed by the Legislature, calling it “insufficient” in many ways.
Darling said it’s critical that legislative conservatives continue to play the role of backstop, to serve as a check on Evers’ tax-and-spend inclinations.
“But the backstop isn’t just on the budget, it’s all the rules and regulations and all the things he is doing through executive power that is putting an undue burden on” taxpayers, the senator said.