Officials react to ‘Mill Bill’ veto

By Jade Henschel

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WAOW) -- Elected officials in our area are reacting to Governor Tony Evers vetoing Assembly Bill 367.

Assembly Bill 367, also known as the 'Mill Bill,' would have required Governor Evers to set aside $65 million in federal funding for loans to finance purchases of both of those mills.

In a release Thursday, Governor Evers says he wants to help the mills but didn't think federal funding was the right way to do it because of the potential need to pay the money back if the project failed.

State Representative Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) said that finding out the bill did not go through was a shock.

"You know yesterday was kind of a bittersweet day," said Krug, "We got news that the budget had been signed earlier in the day and then late in the day and then late in the afternoon kind of got a gut punch to the whole region, kind of take away that excitement. It was pretty shocking actually."

Mayor Shane Blaser of Wisconsin Rapids said that he was disappointed with the veto.

"No bill is ever perfect," said Blaser, "There's always some flaw. There's always somebody that may not support a part of a bill and, you know, this was truly an opportunity that potentially could put two communities, hopefully, reset them back and help them get back. You know, get our economy's going again"

State Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) also said he was disappointed with the bill not getting signed.

"I'm incredibly disappointed that the governor would veto the mill bill," said Testin, "This was an opportunity to provide a lifeline for these families impacted by mill closures."

On the other side of the aisle, State Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) said in part, quote: “This isn’t just a Wisconsin Rapids issue or a Park Falls issue. The closure of these mills disrupted the state supply chains for the paper, pulp, and forestry industries, and that problem hasn’t gone away. Our attention and action are very much still needed.”

Mayor Michael Bablick of Park Falls issuing a statement saying in part: “The Legislature should take the path of least resistance, and pass a bill that the Governor is sure to sign. The Governors veto message for AB 367 is clear on what that is. Every day that goes by means less workers will come back.”

"I think it's important that these mills are operating for our whole state's economy," said Blaser.

Representative Krug said he was planning on reaching out to the governor on Monday to discuss other options.