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Saturday, September 18, 2021
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Evers announced how he plans to distribute nearly $3.2 billion in federal money from the American Rescue Plan Monday. He vetoed a measure that would have given the legislature more authority over federal funding related to COVID-19. 

Gov. Evers plans to prioritize small businesses, expand broadband with federal funding

Gov. Tony Evers announced his spending plan for the $3.2 billion the state received from the American Rescue Plan Monday. He also vetoed a bill that would have given Republicans in the legislature oversight of the federal funding.

According to a press release, $2.5 billion of the federal funding will invest in the economic well-being of families, workers, small business owners and communities across the state. 

Included in that amount is a $50 million investment in the tourism industry and $600 million for small businesses. The governor’s plan also proposes a $200 million investment in infrastructure — which includes expanding broadband — and $500 million dedicated to statewide pandemic response efforts.

“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. “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.”

At the same time, Evers vetoed Senate Bill 183, which would have required Evers to submit a plan for distributing COVID-19-related federal funding to the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance. Evers said in his veto message to Senators that he is committed to transparency in the way funds are distributed.  

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said that a veto from Evers could result in another court battle, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Evers said his role of governor includes oversight over federal funding under Section 16.54 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

Multiple Democratic lawmakers supported the governor’s spending plan Monday, including Rep. Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa, who joined Evers at a small business in her district Monday morning to help announce the plan. 

“As we look forward to the next phase of federal assistance for Wisconsin’s small businesses, we do not have time for political posturing, fighting, delays or obstruction,” said Rep. Vining. “I am trusting our Governor, democratically elected by the people of Wisconsin, to continue to do what he did over the last year — make smart, swift funding decisions supporting our small businesses’ dreams, families and jobs.”

Restaurant owner Rep. Francesca Hong, D-Madison, also supported Evers’ investments in small businesses. 

“Too many small and micro businesses have suffered challenge after challenge this past year and it is vitally important that we are all in for them,” she said.

Evers also prioritized broadband expansion and small business relief in his biennial budget proposal. Republicans plan to draft their own budget, but have expressed support for broadband development.  

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Emma Grenzebach

state news writer

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