|12/24/2019 10:18:00 AM|
Governor Evers pays visit to Iowa County, reflects on first year at State Capitol
|After a year at the Wisconsin State Capitol, Governor Tony Evers wrapped up his first|
year in office and paid visits to local communities. Dodgeville's Cobblestone was one of many stops made by the Governor this past Thursday.
In fact the visit to Dodgeville was full circle.
"I think it was the first day of my campaign, I was right here in this facility," Evers said. "So it's good to be back."
Dodgeville Chronicle's Editor and Publisher Pat Reilly and reporter Kasi Greenwood had the opportunity to visit with the state representative and ask about his first year in office.
Southwest Wisconsin has been in the headlines for the last few months, much in part to the SWIGG Water Study. Researchers in Lafayette, Grant, and Iowa County have been busy finding sources of contamination through their ground water study. Last month, a resolution was tabled that would have potentially prosecuted the media, if any news releases crafted by county officials were edited and not published in full. This was in response to media coverage that misconstrued test results back in August.
"But the good thing about this whole issue around water is that this is something that people desperately care about," Evers said. The last thing we need to do is fight over anything.
We just have to focus on making sure that the water is clean."
Evers also said that local newspapers play a major role when it comes to covering government issues. And Evers put it this way:
"It can't be making the local media the enemy," Evers said. "They have an absolute right and responsibility, and it's their business to report on local government. Having worked in local government at the school level, I understand how important that relationship is."
He added that if communities want strong democracy, it comes down to the local level hence his belief in having a strong media and watchdog process.
"Sometimes that's hard for officials," Evers said. "But that's the only way we can have a strong democracy."
Evers also discussed the homeless situation in Wisconsin. He said that there has been money put in the budget to help.
"It's not like this money is going for the bureaucracy, it's going to nonprofits that served homeless people," Evers said.
He stated that the legislature has passed for this portion of the budget, and it is up to the Joint Finance Committee to release it. He also discussed that the opioid crisis is increasingly costing and destroying families.
"Two years ago, the state had to put 250 kids into foster homes because parents were opioid addicted," Evers said. "That costs money to find a foster parent for each of these kids and bringing social work into it. It's just this cascade of bad things happening to people that aren't addicted; they're the ones that are affected by addiction."
Ever adds, "Investing in this is important, and I think the legislature was able to put some things in place last year. We'll continue to do that because it will cost us more if we don't act differently."
Another item on the budget was mental health services, especially for farms during the market crisis. Evers publicly announced his displeasure after former Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Brad Pfaff was dismissed from his position.
"It cost him his job because he was advocating for money in the legislature, in fact he was being aggressive on it. Farming is their life and that's where the lifeblood of any of your communities is from those people farming, or those that serve farmers."
With the census coming up, Evers plans to ensure clear drawn out maps for Wisconsin. In March or April there will be information from the census that will layout the information needed to draw fair maps. He also will be working on healthcare, as well as be on the effort for criminal justice reforms and more.
He will be continuing more stops throughout the state as the end of the year approaches.
"I am a better governor when I get outside the Capitol," Evers said. "It's a different world. And I learned as much as I could possibly learn just by getting outside of the office."
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