Democratic candidate for governor Tony Evers on Monday released his first set of proposed changes to state government, including automatic voter registration for voting-age adults, nonpartisan redistricting and the elimination of the state's quasi-public economic development agency.
Evers' "Government for Us" agenda was announced just before an endorsement from former President Barack Obama. Also on Monday, Republican Gov. Scott Walker promoted his plan to increase the homestead tax credit available to senior citizens.
Evers' campaign billed his agenda, which was light on details, as an effort to ensure Wisconsin's government is a "responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, upholds Wisconsin’s long tradition of transparency and accountability, and most importantly, works for the people of Wisconsin."
"The hardworking people of Wisconsin deserve a governor and a state government that work hard for them, "Evers said in a statement. "Unfortunately, for the past eight years, Scott Walker and Republicans have used our state government as a way to pay back their political supporters and special interests, waste taxpayer dollars on 24-mile plane rides, and undermine trust and accountability in government. That ends when I’m governor. I’ll make sure we are always putting the people of Wisconsin first."
Evers proposed creating a new Office of the Inspector General to act as a "watchdog" over state government, and pledged to ensure state agencies' cooperation and compliance with audits conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau.
Evers' plan would also eliminate the quasi-public Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation created under Walker and replace it with a new agency Evers said would be more accountable. The candidate has previously said he would like to return to the model of a state Department of Commerce.
Also included in Evers' plan are moves to implement automatic voter registration for 18-year-olds and to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission to oversee the redrawing of legislative district lines.
The Evers plan also calls for a 48-hour "cooling off" period to leave space between committee hearings and votes on legislation, and bans "expansive, arbitrary non-disclosure agreements" for state employees.
In a tweet, Walker said Evers' plan would mean "Madison bureaucrats and union bosses will be in charge of government — instead of the hard-working taxpayers."
Walker on Monday announced a proposal to expand the state's homestead tax credit for senior citizens age 62 and older.
The expansion would raise the maximum income to claim the credit from $24,680 per year to $37,020 per year. The credit would be increased from $1,168 to $1,752.
The proposal, Walker said, is designed to "help seniors stay in their homes."
Evers also touted his endorsement from Obama on Monday. The Democratic former president endorsed Evers, lieutenant governor candidate Mandela Barnes, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, congressional candidate Randy Bryce and a slate of state legislative candidates.