Gov. Tony Evers’ veto of an issue being tracked closely by western Wisconsin leaders will be among items Republicans hope to reverse Thursday through a veto override vote.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke wrote to fellow members Wednesday urging them to override three vetoes the Democratic governor issued in finalizing the budget.
One of those items was funding for a $15 million “Northwest Wisconsin Regional Crisis Center.” Evers vetoed that budget provision — included by the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee. The governor argued the request was outside the normal process for Building Commission projects. However, Evers directed the $15 million to be steered toward expansion of the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center as part of the veto.
Republicans, including Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls, took aim at Evers after the veto.
“Gov. Evers has one of the strongest veto pens in the country and he used it to abandon western Wisconsin and send additional funding to Madison,” Zimmerman said last summer.
The issue of beds for people in mental health crisis has been a focal point in recent years in western Wisconsin. When people in crisis are placed in emergency detention after law enforcement incidents, that requires officers to drive them hours away to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute. The drive from Hudson is four hours one way.
Western Wisconsin lawmakers have offered a variety of solutions to the issue, including a bipartisan effort to expand beds at an Eau Claire-area hospital. Attorney General Josh Kaul held an Oct. 31 summit, where law enforcement officials, health care professionals, legislators and others gathered in Madison.
“The time, resources, and toll this takes on our officers is one of the many reasons we need to take a stand on Thursday to fight for mental health,” Steineke wrote in the letter.
An Associated Press tweet said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, has said Democrats won’t join Republicans. The majority party would need Democrats to join them for a successful override attempt.