Wisconsin budget vetos, DeSantis' legal crusade

Wisconsin governor vetoes key cuts in state budget

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has issued 51 vetoes concerning line items in the state's biannual budget after the Republican-controlled Legislature slashed spending on child care, school safety, public universities and other crucial social infrastructure.

“In many ways, Republicans in the legislature have failed to meet this historic moment. They sent the budget back to my desk without making critical investments in key areas that they know and have acknowledged are essential to the success of our state,” Evers said at a press conference Wednesday.  

“And they did so while providing no real justifications, any kind of substantive debate or any meaningful alternative. That decision is, to put it simply, an abdication of duty,” he concluded.

Such vetoes, according to the governor, would protect millions in grants for childcare providers, a $1 billion increase in funding for K-12 education and “tax relief” for working and middle-class families. Evers' new version of the 2023-25 budget would make “one of the largest investments in workforce housing in state history and bolsters our justice system, our state workforces, our tourism industries, our farmers and producers, and our veterans.”

Certain aspects of the GOP's draft remained in place, however. Evers accepted the $32 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin system that Republican legislators made because they oppose so-called “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) training at the school, even as he previously threatened to veto the whole budget over it. And Evers’ attempts to ameliorate slashes to the state’s COVID-era child care subsidy fell through.

New slate of draconian laws activated in Florida

Over the Fourth of July holiday, hundreds of laws were signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) went into effect. Included in the wave of new legislation were bizarre, culture-war-oriented restrictions on everything from school curriculum to foreign investment.

For example, Senate Bill 264 prevents Chinese citizens and companies — as well as investment firms based in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria and Venezuela — from purchasing land or property in the state of Florida.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1069 mandates that sex education courses in public schools define gender as a biological phenomenon, bans teachers from asking students about their pronouns or respecting the gender identity of transgender students, prevents instruction on menstrual care before the sixth grade, disallows pedagogy surrounding sexual orientation before the eighth grade and requires teachers to encourage abstinence and the “benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage.”

Other pedantic and cruel legislation which officially became law includes the end of funding for DEI programs in public universities and a prohibition on teaching concepts surrounding "systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege."

Another law requires individuals using the bathrooms in public institutions like schools and domestic violence centers to use the facility which correlates with their gender assigned at birth.

Additionally, DeSantis approved new penalties for employers that hire undocumented workers, a requisite for medical staff to record the documentation status of their patients and the implementation of “permitless carry” of firearms without needing safety training or background checks.

A controversial, six-week abortion ban known as the “Heartbeat Bill” was also set to trigger, but a class-action lawsuit led by Planned Parenthood has delayed it from becoming law. That same bill would have allowed exceptions for rape, incest and abuse — in which case the ban would be raised to up to 15 weeks — but such cases would need to be demonstrated with documentation.

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Jamie Larson