Evers’ budget listening session to focus on justice reform, marijuana legalization

Governor Evers showed his support for Joe Biden with a virtual campaign event for La Crosse...
Governor Evers showed his support for Joe Biden with a virtual campaign event for La Crosse voters Thursday morning.(WEAU)
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 9:23 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Gov. Tony Evers is hosting his fifth virtual listening session Wednesday to discuss his biennial budget proposal, this time focusing on justice system reform and legalizing marijuana.

According to Gov. Evers, this Badger Bounceback Live Session will address racial disparities in the justice system and investing in alternatives to incarceration, such as treatment and rehabilitation.

“Our justice system has put a strain on our state, on our communities, and on our families,” said Gov. Evers. “If we want to ensure our families, our communities, and our state can bounce back from this pandemic, we can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them—we have to change it.”

Among specifics of the budget, Gov. Evers has proposed more than doubling the funding for the treatment alternatives and diversion program to provide an additional $15 million over 2021-23. He also suggests eliminating the felony penalty for bail jumping and allowing for a misdemeanor penalty, regardless of the original charge.

Evers also urging for the closures of the Department of Corrections’ Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools to create smaller, community-based facilities to enhance the juvenile justice system.

“It’s time we invest in people, not prisons, and that starts by making substance abuse treatment more accessible, expanding alternatives to incarceration and giving folks reentering our communities the tools and resources they need to be successful,” the governor said.

The governor also wants to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana; which he compared to how the state already does with alcohol. Evers believes this change would generate about $165 million in new tax revenue starting in 2022.

The listening session will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and Wisconsinites can register to participate online. They may also listen to the livestream of the event or watch on the governor’s YouTube channel.

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