MADISON — Republican state Rep. Robin Vos of Burlington was unanimously elected speaker of the state Assembly. He ran unopposed Tuesday, November 13th and was elected to the post by his Republican colleagues.
Vos takes over as speaker for Jeff Fitzgerald, who ran for U.S. Senate instead of seeking re-election. Vos — one of the key figures in the bitter partisan battles over the budget, said he hopes to bridge the divide between the two parties.
“One of the tones I want to set is, I want to reach out in a meaningful way to take the best ideas of everybody. We will still have plenty of opportunities to argue — but I think you can do so in a respectful way and show Wisconsin that the elections are behind us,” Vos said.
Assembly minority leader Peter Barca said he welcomes the gesture.
“Last session — I’ve told people — ‘let’s forget about last session.’ It’s unlike what we normally have here in Wisconsin. We don’t like this polarization. It’s not healthy for the political process, and we should be working together to advance new ideas,” Barca said.
One of Vos’ most ambitious ideas is an overhaul of the entire Wisconsin tax code.
“We are not just going to go back and undo everything the Democrats did. We are going to try to do comprehensive tax reform that makes the system full of less loopholes and special interest giveaways, but also do it in a way where people who pay taxes will get relief,” Voss said.
Barca said before entertaining tax cuts, the Legislature should restore Homestead Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit to help the middle class.
“Unfortunately in the last budget, the people who suffered the brunt of providing tax breaks for special interests were people who work everyday for $8, $9, $10 an hour,” Barca said.
One potential area of agreement is increased funding for schools.
“90% of the schools in this state have seen significant cuts over the course of the last two years and they are stretched very thin, so we need to address that issue,” Barca said.
“I am optimistic that we look at that as part of our general budget. Republicans have always been in favor of having adequate funding for education so I have no doubt we’ll continue that tradition,” Vos said.
Republicans are expected to hold a 60-39 advantage in the Assembly once election results from last week are finalized. The new session begins in January.