MADISON — Tony Evers’ is the Gollum of governors. He just can’t give up a crumb of his precious power.
On Thursday, the Democrat vetoed an 11-bill package crafted by legislative Republicans, legislation that detailed how the state should spend $3.2 billion in federal COVID relief funding.
Republicans directed one-time American Rescue Plan Act aid for broadband expansion ($500 million), they passed $1 billion in property tax relief, $300 million for local road funding, and $150 million in assistance to the state’s long-term care facilities. While the Legislative Fiscal Bureau raised questions on whether some of the projects would fit into the spending parameters of the federal law, it was clear early on Evers would tightly hold on to his unilateral control over the billions.
“It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing the governor vetoed these bills because he still hasn’t put forth a plan of his own on how to help Wisconsin with these relief funds,” said Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) in a joint statement. “I’m glad he announced help for small businesses, but where is the rest of the money? Making vague promises in a press release is not a plan and Wisconsin deserves transparency in this decision making process.”
In taking his veto pen to Republican bills again, Evers announced $420 million in ARPA aid will fund a grant program for small businesses. They would be eligible for grants of up to $5,000, which should just about scratch the surface of the financial damage caused by the pandemic and the Evers administration’s economically crippling lockdowns.
Republican lawmakers assert the governor has locked Wisconsinites out of the decision-making process, again choosing power over people.
“The governor just sent a clear message to the people of Wisconsin that they will have little to no say in how their federal tax dollars are spent,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) said. “He has, once again, rejected the opportunity to work with legislators on even a basic spending plan. This is not good government.”