Evers to business leaders: Let’s find common ground

Transportation could be the first step

Last updated on July 1st, 2019 at 10:54 am

In his first public remarks to a business group since he was inaugurated on Monday, Gov. Tony Evers called for the state’s leaders to find common ground.

“I, as governor want you all to be successful,” Evers told members of the Wisconsin Bankers Association gathered today in Madison. “If you’re successful, then the people in the State of Wisconsin will be successful. At the end of the day, Democrats and Republicans absolutely have to find common ground on the issues I was elected on.”

The WBA hosted its annual Wisconsin Economic Forecast Luncheon at the Alliant Energy Center. Evers said it was an important event for him to attend.

“We need to make sure these people who are serving in these positions in government really know how to connect the dots,” he said. “Government has to work with people to solve problems, and the only way we can solve problems is if we connect the dots.”

The governor, a Democrat, said he feels most confident he can find common ground with Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature on transportation and infrastructure.

“When you think about moving product from point A to point B or you’re moving people from point A to point B…that’s important stuff,” he said. “Republicans want good roads just like Democrats do. I believe we can find a sustainable, long-term solution to (the state’s transportation funding) crisis.”

Evers also is seeking compromise on health care and education.

“We want to make sure that people are well-prepared for the workforce, but we also have to make sure that they’re good citizens and voters,” he said. “We also need a strong investment in the UW System. I think over the past few years, that has not happened.”

He emphasized that good education creates the skilled workers Wisconsin’s employers need, and encouraged the leaders gathered to offer work experience to students.

“I believe that what is the best for our kids and the best for our people and our education system is the best for economic development,” Evers said.

When Evers met with a group of entrepreneurs in Milwaukee to ask how he could help them be successful, he said health care was their primary concern.

“They said first and foremost, they needed to be able to have good health care for their small number of employees,” he said. “We need to understand how important access to high-quality health care is for the people who work all across Wisconsin, especially good people that are starting careers, starting businesses.”

And he addressed the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which he advocated disbanding during the campaign. Lame-duck legislation passed just before he took office gave lawmakers control of WEDC until September.

“The legislation has a nine-month period where Evers gets off training wheels and becomes competent to work with the WEDC. I say that tongue in cheek,” he said.

Evers said while he understands that some business deals need to be kept private, the WEDC should have more transparency.

“…because much of the work at WEDC, at least the high-profile stuff, is lots of money and the people of Wisconsin want to make sure they’re getting their best bang for their buck,” he said.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.