Republicans Scurry to Play Politics with COVID Relief Funds

MADISON – Senate Republicans today passed legislation to meddle in Governor Tony Evers’ COVID-19 recovery plan, yet again. 

Republicans scrambled to offer these half-baked bills only after Governor Evers started unveiling his robust plan to invest $3.2 million in federal funding from President Biden's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). On March 29th, Governor Evers announced the distribution of the ARPA funds. The Governor is directing $2.5 billion toward Wisconsin’s economic recovery, including $600 million to support our small businesses and $50 million to support our tourism industry. $500 million will go toward Wisconsin’s pandemic response.

Governor Evers proposed $200 million from ARPA funding to invest in Wisconsin infrastructure. A significant portion will go toward broadband expansion initiatives. This is a top priority for Governor Evers during the Year of Broadband Expansion, which he declared during his Budget Address. Governor Evers also committed $200 million in the biennial budget toward broadband expansion – this is five times the amount invested by Republicans in the 2013, 2015, and 2017 budgets combined. Governor Evers’ budget includes a comprehensive plan to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across Wisconsin; Republicans’ proposal offers no details.

Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) shared the following statement in response to Republicans’ efforts to derail Governor Evers’ COVID-19 recovery plan.

“Governor Tony Evers continues to be the only adult in the room for responding to this pandemic. He’s led with a plan to protect Wisconsinites and support our economy during this crisis while Republicans sat on the sidelines only taking action to score political points.

“Republicans don’t want to work, but want the recognition. They wasted precious time over the last decade failing to expand broadband, fix Wisconsin’s antiquated unemployment insurance system and invest in our long-term care infrastructure. Now that Wisconsin has real leadership, Republicans are scraping together half-baked ideas to spend ARPA funds while thumbing their noses at billions of dollars for BadgerCare Expansion and millions of dollars for unemployed workers and hunger prevention efforts. Wisconsinites deserve better from the Republican Majority.

“If Republicans don’t want to do their jobs, they should go back on their year-long vacation and let the real leaders get to work.”