Blocked by GOP lawmakers from pulling out of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday he will instead ask Attorney General Josh Kaul to change the state’s “stance” toward the litigation.
The governor declined to clarify what he will ask Kaul to do with respect to the Obamacare lawsuit. But he said the request for a shift in position would not violate the law.
“We believe it will be in such a format that (the AG) will be able to move forward on my request,” Evers said.
Evers’ remarks came Wednesday at Mendota Elementary School on Madison’s North Side. He also said he supports a “red-flag law” allowing judges to disarm people through a process in which they are found to be a threat to themselves or others.
The Attorney General’s Office did not respond Thursday to a request for comment on what Evers said about the lawsuit.
Wisconsin Republicans support the state’s participation in it, and it didn’t take long for a GOP legislative leader to respond to Evers.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tweeted Wednesday that “instead of working with Republican lawmakers to find areas of agreement, Gov. 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.”
Evers was joined at the Wednesday event by Carolyn Stanford Taylor, his pick to succeed him in leading the state education agency, the Department of Public Instruction. They announced a new state program to recognize each week successful Wisconsin students who will be nominated by their teachers.
Kaul said in his inaugural address Monday that he supports a red-flag law, and Evers said Wednesday he agrees with the Democratic attorney general. Such laws vary by state, but they generally allow judges or law enforcement officials to temporarily disarm a person judged to be a threat to themselves or others if petitioned to do so.
“I think it’s important that if we have the documentation and the ability to prove that someone is incapable of owning and using a firearm, that that be taken into consideration,” Evers said.
Evers also hailed the findings of a bipartisan legislative task force calling for significant increases in state spending and local property taxes to fund schools — signaling a possibility for compromise with GOP lawmakers on one of Evers’ signature issues.
“The committee that came up with those recommendations, that’s a great first start,” Evers said.
Evers, who was state schools superintendent until being elected governor, has proposed a funding increase for schools at a cost of $1.4 billion and says he will include that proposal in his first state budget.
The legislative task force, led by Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, and Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, recently issued recommendations that include allowing per-pupil school district revenue limits to increase each year based on inflation. There has not been an increase since 2015 to the limits, which restrict how much schools can raise from local property taxes.
The report also calls for the state to provide two-thirds of the total cost of education, as Evers pledged to do during the campaign. Such a move would soften schools’ reliance on local property taxes. The state last paid for two-thirds of school costs in the 2002-03 school year.