Evers vetoes GOP bills directing federal COVID-19 spending

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 2:56 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed a package of Republican-authored bills that would have directed how the state would spend $3.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money.

Evers on Thursday also announced that up to $420 million in that money coming to the state would go toward a grant program targeting small businesses.

The effort funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 could potentially help 84,000 small businesses in the state that make between $10,000 and $7 million annually. Gov. Tony Evers explained that each small business would receive a $5,000 grant.

“We want small businesses to know that help is on the way,” the governor said. “And once we receive federal funds, we aren’t going to wait to get these funds out quickly to help small businesses restock shelves, catch up on bills, rehire and retain workers, and continue to help keep their customers, employees, and our communities safe as we work to bounce back together.”

Details with the grants are not finalized yet, as Gov. Evers noted federal rules for the ARPA funds still need to be made.

One of the bills he vetoed would have directed $200 million toward small businesses, an amount Evers said “won’t cut it for me.” He added, ”Our Main Streets have been hit hard during this pandemic and we need to do everything we can to make sure they can bounce back.”

Evers also previously vetoed a Republican bill that would have given the Legislature, rather than Evers, control over the spending of the federal money.

“It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing the governor vetoed these bills because he still hasn’t put forth a plan of his own on how to help Wisconsin with these relief funds,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said, following the veto. “I’m glad he announced help for small businesses, but where is the rest of the money?”

His counterpart in the state senate Maj. Leader Devin LeMahieu argued that the veto means Evers has rejected an opportunity to work with the legislature to come up with a plan for the money.

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