Gov. Evers urges Joint Finance Committee to release approved funds to Native Nations

(Scott Bauer | AP)
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 3:27 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:16 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - Gov. Tony Evers has directed the Wisconsin Department of Administration to submit a formal request to the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance to release $2 million in already-approved funding for Tribal Assistance Grants for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Gov. Evers stated that the grants, which are funded by Tribal gaming revenue, are being withheld by Republicans on the Committee. The governor’s directive to DOA comes after Republicans on the JFC recently rejected the DOA’s original 13.10 request to release the full $11 million appropriated in the 2023-25 biennial budget for Tribal Assistance Grants, which would have ensured each of the 11 federally recognized Native Nations in Wisconsin received $1 million in grant funds.

Republicans on the Committee instead voted to withhold any grant funds from being distributed to the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa while distributing $1 million each to the nine other federally recognized Tribes.

Gov. Evers shared that the Republicans’ vote to exclude these two Native Nations came despite the source of these funds being Tribal gaming revenue that Tribes generate and pay to the state of Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin would not be the state we are today without the significant contributions of Indigenous people to our history, culture, economy, and to our future, and our success as a state is inextricably tied to the success of the Native Nations who call this land home,” Gov. Evers said. “The actions by Republicans on Joint Finance to withhold already-approved funds, which are paid for by Tribal gaming revenue, from two Tribes in Wisconsin without any justification or rationale flies in the face of our work to build strong, meaningful government-to-government partnerships with the Native Nations.”

The request was submitted under the Committee’s 13.10 process to explain that the intent of the Evers Administration is for $1 million to be distributed to each Tribe for the Tribal Assistance Grant Program, which was signed by Gov. Evers earlier this year.

“My request to Republicans is simple,” Gov. Evers concluded. “Stop playing politics with the Native Nations in this state and release these funds that are essential for Tribes to provide governmental services to their citizens and communities.”