Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday he will direct Attorney General Josh Kaul to change the state's position on a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act this week.
Evers campaigned on a promise to withdraw Wisconsin from the multi-state lawsuit, but his ability to do so without legislative approval was removed in a set of laws passed by the Republican-led Legislature after he was elected. A federal judged in Texas ruled the ACA unconstitutional in December, but it is still being enforced as the lawsuit is appealed.
"That letter will be going to Attorney General Kaul sometime this week and it’ll be asking us to change our stance with that lawsuit," Evers told reporters in Madison. "We are going to issue that letter directly to the attorney general and we believe it will be in such a format that he will be able to move forward with my request."
Evers did not offer additional details on how he would accomplish his goal without violating the new law. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, criticized his comments.
"Instead of working with Republican lawmakers to find areas of agreement, Governor Evers has decided to spend his first week in office issuing edicts and looking for ways to skirt state law so that he can advance his partisan agenda," Fitzgerald tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
The newly-sworn in governor also said he will visit the Lincoln Hills juvenile corrections facility on Friday, fulfilling a campaign promise to visit the youth prison during his first week in office. Gov. Scott Walker did not visit any of the state's prisons during his two terms.
Early this year, Walker signed into law a plan that will close Lincoln Hills by 2021 and send most youth offenders to facilities overseen by counties throughout the state. The law, passed with bipartisan support, followed years of allegations of inmate abuse and unsafe working conditions. Evers said Wednesday he hopes to meet with both staff and inmates.
Evers took questions from reporters at Mendota Elementary School after announcing a new "Star Student" program, through which he will recognize students who are nominated by teachers and selected by the Department of Public Instruction.
Asked about recommendations released this week by the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding that call for significant increases in state funding and local property taxes for K-12 schools, Evers said the recommendations are a "great first start."
"I think we'll find some intersection," Evers said when asked if he would include any of the commission's recommendations in the budget he introduces to the Legislature this spring.
He did not point to any specific recommendations from the commission.
Evers has said his budget proposal will include the education budget request he submitted to Walker in September as state Superintendent of Public Instruction.
His K-12 budget proposal will include an additional $1.4 billion for schools, and under his plan, two-thirds of public school funding would come from the state budget.