State of the State: Gov. Evers discusses ‘unrelenting’ year

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 8:27 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 10:27 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Gov. Tony Evers delivered the likely first-ever virtual State of the State address on Tuesday night.

Gov. Evers dedicated Tuesday’s address to those who have died this year and the families who are mourning the loss of a loved one. The governor took a moment of silence to honor these Wisconsinites. He also wanted to acknowledge Ben Belzer,who worked in the governor’s office and died last summer.

The governor described 2020 as one of the most “unrelenting” years that many people have ever experienced.

He noted that the state invested nearly $2 billion in their efforts regarding COVID-19. There were more than 26 million PPE pieces distributed, more than $379 million given to help stabilize the economy and more than $200 million spent to help communities recover from the virus.

Gov. Evers explained that despite the magnitude of challenges the past year presented, Wisconsinites came together to adapt and respond.

“This past year asked a lot of us, and we’ve asked a lot of one another,” the governor said. “But when we did, we found that the strength of our state is in what we are willing to face together—what we are willing to do for each other, especially when our neighbors need us the most.”

Broadband issues in Wisconsin

Gov. Evers noted that the digital divide in Wisconsin is more evident now than ever, showing that high-speed internet is still a setback for many.

The governor declared 2021 the Year of Broadband Access in his address, saying that his 2021-23 budget will invest nearly $200 million into broadband. He noted that this is five times the amount of the 2013, 2015 and 2017 budgets combined.

“It’s 2021, folks—having access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Gov Evers said. “Every Wisconsinite across our state should have access to reliable, high-speed internet. Period.”

Unprecedented” influx of unemployment claims

Gov. Evers announced that he will call a special session of the Legislature to work on modernizing the unemployment system.

The governor noted that the number of unemployment claims exceeded the number of claims during the Great Recession. The Dept. of Workforce Development has received 8.8 million claims since March, which is 1.6 million more than the four previous years combined.

“We know that replacing this system will take years—that’s why it should’ve been done sooner, but it’s also why we now have not another moment to waste,” Gov. Evers said.

Redistricting using ‘The People’s Maps’

The governor noted that his biennial budget will ensure that the Legislature draws out new maps with public input.

Gov. Evers announced the creation of the People’s Maps Commission during his last State of the State in order to correct what he says are gerrymandered maps.

The governor explained that The People’s Maps will be drawn by the people of the state, rather than political parties or consultants.

Watch the full State of the State below:

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