The Bottom Line

Whether you agree or disagree with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed at the federal level, Wisconsin will be receiving $3.2 billion in discretionary spending over the next 4 years. Although it lacked many details, Governor Evers on Monday laid out his plan for how he intends to spend this large sum of federal money.

While I agree with some parts of his proposal, I led a press conference with my Republican Assembly colleagues on Tuesday at the Resch Complex in Green Bay announcing proposals for how we could prioritize this money to benefit all Wisconsinites.

I agree with Governor Evers on his plan to invest up to $600 million in Wisconsin’s small businesses as well as investing $50 million toward the state’s tourism industry. Although he plans to invest $200 million in broadband and other infrastructure, Governor Evers missed the mark with broadband as well as other key areas.     

First, our proposal include aid to households. Wisconsin taxpayers have faced unprecedented struggles in the past year, and it only makes sense that this federal money should be used in part to help hard-working families. This proposal would provide up to $1 billion to give the equivalent of a 10% return of taxes paid by property owners statewide.

Second, our proposals would prioritize investing in long-term care. Last month, the Evers administration announced that it had misclassified over 1,000 deaths that had been classified as an “unknown” housing setting, but are now known to be deaths that occurred in long-term care facilities.

In all, Wisconsin’s long-term care facilities experienced over 3,000 of the 6,625 Wisconsin COVID-19 deaths equaling about 45% of the state’s total COVID mortality. Long-term care facilities have faced the worst of the pandemic. Yet, Governor Evers dispersed less than 10% of his 2020 CARES Act discretionary funding to Wisconsin’s long-term care facilities. It is important that we use these new federal dollars to invest in senior facilities and their staff that have cared for our loved ones, friends, and the state’s most vulnerable over the past year.

Finally, we need go bigger and bolder with Wisconsin’s broadband infrastructure. Various technology groups have indicated that it would take approximately $500 million public dollars matched with $500 million from the private sector to bring the state’s broadband coverage to 97% of households by 2024. Over the past year, the expanded use of remote work and schooling has brought even more attention to the lack of reliable internet access. Wisconsin must continue working to bring broadband access to all residents, and this federal funding provides a unique opportunity to address a clear disparity in our rural areas.

These proposals are responsible uses of Wisconsin’s federal dollars that will benefit all Wisconsinites. I hope the Governor will see the value in these priorities as the details are presented in the coming weeks. Bottom line – the money should be spent for the people, not the wants of government.