MADISON — Assembly Republicans held a press conferences Tuesday to lay out how they would prioritize spending Wisconsin’s $3.2 billion share of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
But Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, at open war with the Republican-controlled Legislature, made the priority list all but moot on Monday when he vetoed the Republicans’ Truth in Spending Act. The legislation would have given the Legislature oversight of the federal COVID relief funds, the kind of share-government offer the power-hungry governor has ever been loathe to support.
“We’re putting forward this plan to make sure the people hurt most by the government’s response to the pandemic get help,” Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said. “We want to see that the federal funding is spent in the best possible way to maximize the ability for our state to grow and thrive after the pandemic.”
Vos has said Evers can expect a court challenge if he vetoes the oversight bill.
Here’s the priority list, according to Assembly Republicans.
Aid to Households – Wisconsin taxpayers were affected most by the pandemic. This is their money and they can spend it better than the government. This proposal provides $1 billion to give the equivalent of a 10% return of taxes paid by property owners statewide.
Investing in Long-Term Care – 45% of Wisconsin’s 6,598 COVID deaths have been in long-term care facilities. But, Governor Evers sent them less than 10% of his CARES Act discretionary funding. These facilities were hit severely by the COVID-19 pandemic and we need to recognize residents and staff and the difficult year they’ve been through.
Broadband Expansion – The governor said he would use a portion of the funds for broadband expansion, but his plan just isn’t enough. Our proposal invests $500 million of these federal funds to get broadband to approximately 95% of the state. A November 2020 report by Forward Analytics showed nearly 25% of rural residents (430,000) lack high-speed broadband while urban areas have near universal access.
“This last year has been a struggle for many in Wisconsin,” said Rep. Plumer. “I hope the governor listens to our priorities and uses these funds to help those who have struggled the most,” said state Rep. John Plumer (R-Lodi).
Evers sounds like he will do what he has so often done — disregard the Republicans in the Legislature.
“These funds don’t belong to me or any member of the Legislature, and these funds sure shouldn’t get caught up in another political back-and-forth where Republicans in the Legislature put politics before people or take nearly 300 days to act,” Evers said in a statement. “This money belongs to Wisconsinites and so many need this support — it would be unimaginable for Republicans to prevent these funds from going out to folks who need it the most.”
Translation: The funds belong to the government. Evers and his far left handlers will decide how the taxpayer money is redistributed.
“We know that it took the legislature pushing the governor to fix the unemployment situation and the failure of the early vaccine rollout for things to get better,” Vos said. “Now we have the economy to open and we’re going to make sure the funds are allocated wisely.”