State of the State: Evers says broadband, gerrymandered maps, and unemployment system will be areas of focus in 2021
MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - Gov. Tony Evers delivered his 2021 State of the State address virtually Tuesday night.
“When I delivered my last state of the state address, no one could have predicted the rest of the year would go quite like it did. What we now know about 2020 is that it was among the most unrelenting years many of us have ever experienced. If someone had said then that our special sessions to address our dairy crisis and provide funding for our schools and property tax relief would be met with inaction—if someone had said then that after visiting all 72 counties my first year in office, last year we’d only be visiting each other virtually and learning to use a thing called Zoom—if someone had said then that in a year’s time, we’d have lost more than 5,000 of our family members, friends, and neighbors due to the worst public health crisis in a century—we wouldn’t have believed them,” Evers said.
A video was played featuring news clips of some of the challenges 2020 presented.
“I know folks are eager to put this virus in the past—frankly, I am, too. I know so many are ready to get vaccinated and get back to life as we knew it, and we are working to distribute vaccine doses as quickly and as fairly as we can,” he said.
Evers said he’s declaring 2021 the Year of Broadband Access saying virtual learning shed light on the state’s ‘digital divide’.
“According to the FCC, more than 430,000 people who make up 25 percent of our state’s rural population lack access to high-speed internet. Our state ranks 36th in the country for accessibility in rural areas,” he explained. “My 2021-23 biennial budget will invest nearly $200 million over the biennium into broadband—that’s five times the amount invested in the 2013, 2015, and 2017 budgets combined.”
He said 25% of Wisconsin lacks access to high-speed internet. “Our state ranks 36th in the country for accessibility in rural areas,” he shared.
Evers also spoke about the record number of unemployment claims at the beginning of the pandemic.
“I’d like to talk about the very second bill that should be passed by the Legislature this session, and that’s a bill to fix our broken unemployment system,” he said. “I will be calling a special session of the Legislature to take up a plan to modernize our unemployment system and help ensure nothing like this happens to the people of Wisconsin again,” Evers explained.
He said in 2021 the state would fix gerrymandered maps.
“Wisconsinites don’t want maps that favor any political candidate or party—we just want maps where either candidate can win. Folks, that’s just common sense,” he said.
The State of the State concluded with the UW March Band.
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