Lawsuit, Budget Battle & Surplus Revenue

State Files Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma

On May 16, Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul announced the state has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and its former president and chairman Richard Sackler. The state is alleging Purdue Pharma and Sackler purposefully misled the public about the dangers of its opioid products by downplaying the negative addictive nature of those products. Wisconsin joined Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, and West Virginia in filing lawsuits against Purdue and Sackler last week.

The lawsuit is in reaction to the statewide opioid epidemic, which the state is alleging is at least in part the result of Purdue Pharma’s false advertising. According to the filed suit, 7,500 Wisconsin citizens died due to opioid overdoses from 2000 to 2017, and the cost of combating the state’s opioid epidemic has been “enormous” according to Kaul.

As such, the state is seeking civil penalties, monetary damages, and a judicial order to stop unlawful marketing and prescribing of opioids.

Follow the HC Report for updates on this story as the lawsuit progresses.

Legislative Republicans Consider Passing Two Budget Bills

According to a story published on, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) are considering passing two separate budget bills this summer. One would address state funding and the other would focus on policy issues. The strategy is an attempt to mitigate Governor Tony Evers’ line item veto powers.

While Wisconsin governors have the authority to line item veto legislation, they can only do so when legislation include appropriations. By passing a policy bill separate from an appropriations bill, Evers would only have the option of signing the policy bill or vetoing it in its entirety.

Both Vos and Fitzgerald indicated they are exploring the option but have not made a final decision. The move would be unprecedented since the state adopted its current budget process in 1931.

State Revenue Estimates Increase $753 Million

According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state will receive $753 million more in tax revenue than previously estimated. The new revenue estimates come during the middle of heated deliberations on the state budget. Democratic Governor Tony Evers and the Republican-controlled legislature have differing views on how to use the new revenue.

Evers wants to use some of the funds to make payments on state debt, add an additional $15 million to worker training programs, and provide $18 million for the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was somewhat less specific in his plan for the new revenue, saying in a statement, “Assembly Republicans are announcing our intentions to put these dollars toward providing tax relief, growing the rainy day fund, and paying down debt. Now is not the time to go on a spending spree.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said, “Wisconsin is seeing a return on our responsible fiscal management over the last eight years. As a result, we find ourselves in a great position to cut taxes, make smart investments in infrastructure, and maintain a strong closing balance.”

As of this writing, the legislature has not announced any official, detailed plans for the revenue, but it is likely they will pass some amount of tax relief.

Continue to follow the HC Report and our social media on Facebook and Twitter for the latest developments.