MADISON, Wis. — In the midst of two school shootings involving police and students, as well as numerous other threats putting students and parents on edge, Gov. Tony Evers won’t pressure lawmakers to pass measures surrounding gun reform.
He spoke Wednesday with WISN 12 News in Madison.
“I still support them,” Evers said in an interview. “I’m a realist also. I witnessed what happened last time around. But if the Legislature wants to take them up, I’ll be more than happy to help get them passed. But in the meantime, we’re focusing on issues that we can find common ground on. At least I am, and I think they will, too.”
Evers said what’s transpired this week is “difficult to fathom” and he wants to focus the Legislature’s attention on mental health services.
He said that could perhaps come in a special session or when lawmakers return to work in January.
“This is an area where I know there is common agreement,” Evers said. “Where I think there is disagreement -- I don’t view this mental health funding as something that is going to take care of gun safety issues. But it’s important. It’s darn important.”
Republican leaders last month gaveled in and out of a special session Evers called to address gun violence.
The governor had pushed for lawmakers to expand background checks and a "red flag law," neither of which received debate or a vote.
Now, Evers won’t use the recent events to bolster his argument, despite his message that a majority of Wisconsinites would support the measures.
“If they’re willing to take them up -- the gun safety issues -- that’d be fine,” Evers said. “But I don’t anticipate that.”
Evers said he hasn’t talked to Republican leaders about school safety or gun reform in several months but anticipates reaching out to them during the next several weeks to see if there’s room for agreement on legislation to provide more resources for mental health.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Evers vetoed millions of dollars for mental health funding.
“Republicans have led the way in expanding mental health treatment opportunities in schools over the past several budgets," he said. "The current spending plan doubles the funding for student mental health programs. Last budget, we invested $100 million in school safety grants, which included mental health training in schools.”First 'No Time to Die' trailer teases deadly betrayal for James Bond