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Marquette Poll: Several Evers proposals have strong public support

Several of Gov. Tony Evers' policy proposals have strong public support, according to a new poll from Marquette University Law School.

The survey, released Thursday, Jan. 24, found the majority of respondents support Wisconsin leaving a federal lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, taking a federal expansion of Medicaid funding and funding a "major" spending bump for special education across the state.

Those are all proposals Evers pushed on the campaign trail and in his first State of the State address Tuesday, Jan. 22. The poll found 48 percent of respondents support leaving the federal healthcare lawsuit, compared to 42 percent who would like to remain involved. Sixty-two percent said they support accepting the Medicaid expansion and 73 percent back spending more state money on special education programs.

The governor's spokeswoman lauded the results.

"As the governor said on Tuesday night, the will of the people is the law of the land," said spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff. "The governor looks forward to presenting the people's budget next month and working with legislators to ensure that the will of the people is the law of the land."

However, support for a possible gas tax increase, something Evers has entertained, is under water. The survey found 52 percent of respondents oppose the possible increase.

"The road (funding) issue is a real issue that's not going away," said poll director Charles Franklin. "As long as the the voters are opposed to it, that's a very difficult task, unless you really had arm-to-arm bipartisanship marching together."

The poll of 800 registered voters was conducted from Jan. 16-20. It had a sample of 45 percent self-described Republicans, 43 percent Democrats and 11 percent independents. The margin of error is 3.9 percent.

It comes amid a contentious week in state politics, in which Evers has clashed with Republican legislative leaders over the health care lawsuit, the Medicaid expansion, legislation to protect people with pre-existing health conditions and how to fund a middle-class income tax cut.

Those clashes have come amid calls for bipartisanship at the Capitol. Forty-seven percent of those polled said Evers is trying to cooperate with legislative leaders; 46 percent believe leaders are trying to cooperate with the new Democratic governor.

"Eight years ago, Act 10 meant that we just parted the ways and became super polarized, and we still have a lot of that," Franklin said. "But we do have some areas that are not as polarized."

The Legislature has a 52 percent approval rating, despite 41 percent of respondents saying they "strongly disapprove" of the actions taken during December's extraordinary session to limit Evers' power.

Issues including marijuana legalization, a possible move to a nonpartisan redistricting commission in the state and raising the minimum wage also came out ahead in the poll.

Approval of marijuana legalization remains on the upswing. This month, 59 percent said marijuana should be legalized. In September 2014, only 46 percent favored legalization.

The redistricting commission, a new question for the poll, saw 72 percent approval over lawmakers' continuing to draw legislative maps. Democrats have said they plan to introduce legislation this session that would create such a commission.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed support raising the state's $7.25 per hour minimum wage.

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