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StateoftheState006-01222019211917 (copy)

Gov. Tony Evers enters the Wisconsin Assembly chambers Tuesday night to deliver his first State of the State address.

Results from the first Marquette University Law School poll since Gov. Tony Evers was elected were released Thursday. They showed support for several of his budget and policy priorities. At the same time, more than a third of voters don't know enough about Wisconsin's new governor to rate his job performance. 

Here are some takeaways from the poll.

1. Most voters are on the same page as Evers when it comes to health care. 

Sixty-two percent of registered voters think Wisconsin should accept federal money to expand Medicaid, while 25 percent oppose it and 12 percent don't have an opinion. Evers has said he will include a measure to accept the federal dollars in his state budget, but Republicans say there's no way they'll go along with that.

A smaller margin of voters support Evers' efforts to remove Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. Forty-eight percent of voters said Wisconsin should withdraw from the lawsuit, while 42 percent said the state should stay on board. Nine percent had no opinion.

2. School funding is a priority for voters. 

More voters prioritize funding for schools over lower property taxes. Fifty-five percent of voters wouldn't mind paying more in property taxes in order to send money to schools, while 38 percent of voters say they would prefer lower property taxes over more school funding. 

Seventy-three percent of voters said they would support a "major" increase to special education funding, while 20 percent would oppose it. 

Evers plans to propose $1.4 billion in new funding for K-12 schools in his first budget, including $600 million in additional funding for special education programs. 

3. Voters really want a new process for drawing legislative maps.

Seventy-two percent of voters would like legislative redistricting to be handled by a nonpartisan commission, while 18 percent say it should be left to the Legislature and governor, which is how it stands now. 

With the next set of electoral maps set to be drawn in 2021, Democrats have said they plan to introduce a bill to move the process to a nonpartisan commission. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has advocated for keeping the state's current approach, as dictated by the state Constitution, arguing no person or commission can truly act independently without partisan bias.

4. Marijuana legalization is more popular now than it was five years ago.

Fifty-nine percent of voters support legalizing marijuana, while 35 percent oppose it. The last time Marquette asked that question in the same format, 46 percent of voters supported it and 51 percent opposed it. 

Evers has said he will include a "first step" toward legalizing medical marijuana in his first budget, a move he said would put the state on a pathway toward full legalization. 

Although some Republicans are open to supporting medical marijuana, most have said they would only do so with strict, clear limitations. Vos told reporters earlier this week he's concerned by Evers' framing, because he doesn't want medicinal legalization to become a "slippery slope" toward full legalization. 

5. People aren't sure what to make of the new divided government dynamic in the Capitol so far.

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Thirty-one percent of voters approve or strongly approve of the legislation passed by Republicans in a lame-duck session limiting some powers of the governor and attorney general before Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul took office. Fifty-five percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of the changes, and 14 percent don't have an opinion. 

Despite generally disapproving of the extraordinary session, voters also generally approve of the Legislature. Fifty-two percent approve of the job the Legislature is doing, while 31 percent disapprove and 16 percent lack an opinion. 

Voters also appear to think Evers is more interested in cooperating with the Republican-led Legislature than legislative leaders are in cooperating with Evers. Forty-seven percent of voters said they think Evers is trying to cooperate with legislative Republicans, while 25 percent said they don't think he is. Twenty-two percent of voters think Republican leaders are trying to cooperate with Evers, while 46 percent think they aren't interested in cooperating. 

6. Voters don't know a whole lot about the people running the show at the Capitol.

Evers' job approval rating just a few weeks into his term is 39 percent, with 22 percent of voters disapproving. But 38 percent of voters don't have an opinion about him. Forty-one percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Evers, while 24 percent view him unfavorably. Thirty-four percent either haven't heard enough about him or don't know.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes earns a 16 percent favorability rating, while 7 percent view him unfavorably and 76 percent either haven't heard enough about him or don't know. The same numbers apply to Attorney General Josh Kaul, but 77 percent haven't heard enough about him or don't know.

Seventy percent of voters haven't heard enough about Vos to have an opinion about him, or don't know their opinion. Thirteen percent of voters view him favorably, while 17 percent have an unfavorable opinion.

Fifty-seven percent of voters haven't heard enough about Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, to have an opinion about him, or don't know their opinion. Twenty-four percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Fitzgerald, and 19 percent view him unfavorably. 

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.