Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday said he thinks his budget will come "close" to his campaign pledge to raise no new taxes, despite the fact that it would raise taxes by more than $1 billion over two years.
"I think we'll be pretty close," Evers said during an interview on WTMJ radio, adding that there might be some "small" increases.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tweeted after the interview: "Is this a joke?"
Evers' message on taxes shifted throughout his campaign for governor as he faced attacks from Republicans who argued he would implement massive increases if elected.
He told reporters in September that his goal was "to keep taxes reasonable in the state of Wisconsin," but days before the election, he told the Washington Post he was "planning to raise no new taxes." He repeated the claim on Nov. 4.
"I’m planning on raising no taxes," he told WISN-TV.
At the same time, Evers said on the campaign trail that his budget would include revenue increases to fund transportation projects. Evers said "everything is on the table" when asked before the election what he would propose for roads funding.
PolitiFact recently rated Evers' budget a "full flop" compared to his campaign statements on taxes.
Since releasing his spending plan last month, Evers has said that in order to pay for voters' priorities, some tax increases will be necessary — but he has argued that most middle-income earners will be shielded from the hikes.
Evers' budget would raise the gas tax by $485 million over two years — an increase of 8 cents per gallon. But it would also repeal the state's "minimum mark-up" on fuel sales, a move Evers has said could result in drivers paying as much as 6 cents per gallon less at the pump.
His budget would raise other taxes by $550 million over two years. Included in that increase is a move to limit a 30 percent capital gains exclusion to individuals making less than $100,000 and married couples making less than $150,000, and a provision to scale back a tax credit for manufacturers.
Republican legislative leaders have decried the budget as a "liberal wishlist" and a missed opportunity to work across the aisle to achieve compromises.
"Even before we get the fiscal bureau analysis, we know the governor’s budget raises taxes by more than $1 billion. He wants to raise taxes on manufacturers and property owners just to name a few. It’s unfortunate that @GovEvers can’t even admit it," tweeted Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.
Evers said on WTMJ that he thinks his budget is a realistic one, citing a recent Marquette University Law School poll that showed strong public support for measures like expanding Medicaid and moving to a nonpartisan redistricting process.
He also said he thinks it's time to "move on" from the frustration that resulted from a lame-duck session limiting some of his powers, although he doesn't think the changes were legal.
"I have no animosity, but I also understand the need to huff and puff, and that happens on both sides," Evers said. "And that's unfortunately how it works."