Vos criticizes Evers’s COVID-19 response following State of the State address

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 11:09 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Assembly Speaker Robin Vos drew the applause of masked Republican lawmakers as he criticized the Evers administration for its “major missteps” in the response to the ongoing pandemic.

The top Republican in the state responded to the Governor’s State of the State address Tuesday night. “Governor Evers, do your job,” he said.

Unlike the governor, who addressed the public virtually (a first for Wisconsin’s State of the State address), Speaker Vos hosted members of the State Assembly in person. Whereas Republican lawmakers sat to one side of the aisle to watch the governor’s speech on a TV monitor, Democratic representatives were a no-show. Many had left the chambers after marking themselves “present.”

Vos showed his upset at the administration’s pace of creating a vaccine distribution plan and giving aid to families wanting unemployment insurance benefits. “These failures brought unnecessary hardship to Wisconsin families. The Evers administration owes these families answers and in many cases, an apology,” he said.

Gov. Evers called out the Republican-dominated Legislature several times in his own address, at one point calling on a special session to “modernize” the state’s unemployment system. The current system, he said, has “contributed to delays in processing claims, required more time to implement new federal programs, and made it harder to get benefits out the door.”

The governor said, “I want to make myself clear: if the Legislature continues to ignore this problem—if they gavel in and gavel out like they’ve done before, if they leave this problem for another administration, another generation—the people of this state will hold them accountable at the ballot box.”

After both speeches, Assembly leaders spoke with members of the news media. Speaker pro tempore Tyler August said of the governor, “He’s taken no responsibility for the businesses that he shut down, the people that he put out of work, and he took no responsibility for the unemployment claims.”

Into the rest of the year, Speaker Vos said he wants to push for a “more comprehensive” COVID-19 relief bill-- one that “limits government overreach and allows for more public input.” He also said Wisconsin can expect a Legislature that sticks to a conservative budget and doesn’t raise taxes.

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