By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Kenosha area Democrats like Rep. Kip McGuire say they are baffled that the Republican-led Legislature didn’t include nearly $10 million in the budget to help fund the Kenosha Innovation Center.
They should be livid that Gov. Tony Evers has yet to tap into the $3 billion in federal COVID relief funding at his disposal.
After all, Evers is the guy who let rioters run roughshod over the city and burn a large swath of it down. The least he could do is mark 3 percent of the money he — and he alone — controls for a project aimed at bolstering Kenosha’s economy.
The center is part of a $1 billion proposed “Innovation Neighborhood,” which would offer opportunities for education, job training, and entrepreneurial businesses at the old Chrysler engine plant.
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, a Democrat, told the Kenosha News he’s disappointed with the Republican Caucus for not including in the final budget bill the $9.75 million Evers originally put in his bloated budget proposal.
“The Republican Caucus had an opportunity, had they wished, to put this back in the budget. And, they decided not to and that’s disappointing,” Antaramian told the newspaper.
The mayor said Kenosha would get along … some how. “There are other funding sources and we’ll be working with the governor to get funding … for this project.”
Yes, there are other sources. A great, big one, as Republican lawmakers have been pointing out. And Evers could pull from it at the snap of his fingers — any time.
If the governor had any sense of regret, he’d write the check ASAP.
It was Evers who was inexcusably slow in deploying the National Guard, and he failed to provide adequate support when he eventually consented as days of riots last August destroyed portions of Kenosha’s business districts. And Evers initially rejected federal law enforcement assistance from then-President Donald Trump in what clearly was an act of political pettiness.
Scores of businesses, government buildings and homes in Kenosha’s Uptown and Downtown districts were smashed up, looted and set on fire, many burning to the ground. The riots left Kenosha businesses with a $50 million bill.
So you could say Evers owes Kenosha.
“I wish I could say I’m surprised, but Evers refusal to consider using ARPA for the Kenosha STEM Innovation Center is par for the course,” Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), whose district includes most of Kenosha County, said last month. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he refuses to take other suggestions. He was slow to react seriously and listen following last year’s riots, and now, he just turned his back on redeveloping Kenosha. He’s more interested in playing the blame game than helping. And Kenosha suffers again.”