Lt. Gov.-elect Mandela Barnes said he and Gov.-elect Tony Evers will offer an optimistic message at their swearing-in ceremony.

Barnes, a former Dem lawmaker from Milwaukee, appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with

“Give us some sense of what the message will be from you and Tony Evers. What will you be telling the people of Wisconsin?” Gousha asked.

“It’s going to be a message of optimism. We campaigned with a positive message talking about how we work to improve the state of Wisconsin, whether it’s health care, whether it’s providing good paying jobs or making sure that people have a great school to send their children to,” Barnes said. “That’s what the theme will be, that’s what it was in the campaign, and that’s what it will be in the administration.”

Barnes said that as he and Evers traveled around the state, they heard from voters about several “core issues,” including fully funded schools, internet connectivity in rural areas in northern Wisconsin, and clean water and clean air concerns.

“They want to make sure that we’re going to work to do right by the environment,” Barnes said.

Also on the program, state Reps. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, and Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, discussed their work on corrections reform.

“This isn’t as complicated as people might make it,” Goyke said. “You have to reduce the number of people being sent into the system, and increase the number of people getting out of the system. If we just identify some low-hanging fruit reforms that other states have done, I think we can plateau the (prison) population, stop it from growing, and then start to reduce it.”

Schraa said supervision reform, and keeping people from going back to prison for small rules violations, could be accomplished. He also said he thought corrections reform could be done on a bipartisan basis.

Goyke said there would be reforms “based on earning second chances,” and an emphasis on treatment over incarceration.

Goyke also said the plan lawmakers approved to close the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile facility in favor of smaller, regional centers for youth might need more time, and the law would need some “clarifying language” in the months ahead.

“We’re going to need a little more time, but we’re not going to delay this years,” Goyke said, adding that Lincoln Hills would still be slated for closure in 2021.

Schraa also said the plan would need more funding.

“We want to do it right, and I think in order to do that, we’re probably going to have to look at a little additional funding,” Schraa said.

Schraa also said the situation with corrections officers is at “crisis levels,” with a large number of retirements on the horizon, non-competitive starting wages, and problems with retention. Schraa said a higher starting wage would help.

“We need to make sure that individuals that are protecting the public are taken care of,” Schraa said.

See more from the show:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email