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Legislative Update

Partisan gaps over use/control of latest federal COVID relief funds are wide

by | Mar 30, 2021 | Federal Issue, Legislative Update Blog, State Issue | 0 comments

Yesterday (3/29), Gov. Evers unveiled his initial plan for allocating $3.2 billion in federal funding the state of Wisconsin is slated to receive from the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

Evers also announced he had vetoed a bill that would have given the Legislature more say over the use of those funds, according to a statement from the administration.

Legislative Republicans who control both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature had passed legislation requiring legislative oversight and approval of the federal funds, but Evers vetoed Senate Bill 183, saying it would prevent funds from going out to people who need them the most.  

The plan announced by the governor yesterday calls for using the federal dollars to expand broadband, build infrastructure, and restore the economic well-being of families, workers, small business owners, and communities across the state. A significant portion of the proposed $200 million investment in infrastructure would go toward expanding broadband access.  Continued support of the state’s pandemic response is another priority for the funds.

This afternoon, Assembly Republicans held a press conference to discuss their priorities for spending the $3.2 billion in discretionary federal stimulus funding, including what they termed important areas the Governor overlooked in his proposal. Among other things, they want the governor to spend $500 million of the federal pandemic relief funds on broadband expansion and $1 billion of those funds for property tax relief.

Wisconsin is set to receive about $5.7 billion under the latest federal stimulus package, of which $3.2 billion is earmarked for state government. The remaining funds will go to local governments and non-governmental programs.

Note: Federal funds for K-12 education are provided separately.  The plan for allocating those funds must be reviewed by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC).  The DPI has until April 10 to submit its plan to the JFC.

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