$100 million in state coronavirus relief is back in limbo after Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a Republican-approved package on Friday.
Gov. Evers claims Republicans were playing political games by sending a relief package to his desk they knew he wouldn’t sign into law. GOP leaders said Evers is now to blame for jeopardizing millions of dollars for unemployment and coronavirus testing efforts.
Almost immediately after the state legislature approved its first coronavirus relief package in 10 months, Evers nixed the plan.
"Wisconsinites know a compromise when they see one, and this isn't it," Evers said in a statement.
Evers originally made a deal with Senate Republicans on the relief package, but Republicans in the Assembly made several revisions before passing it. One would give them authority over how the state spends federal coronavirus funds and another would limit Evers from issuing emergency health orders unless it’s to collect federal COVID-19 relief.
Democratic Senator Chris Larson said he applauds Evers’ veto.
“It was basically the legislature trying to figure out how to do work again after 296 days of being inactive, of not passing any substantive legislation or any legislation at all,” Larson said.
Republican Senator Van Wanggarrd said it will now be Evers’ fault for the state missing out on much needed federal relief for more than 100,000 people on unemployment.
“As of Monday, there's going to be 6.5 million dollars less for relief for those individuals because the governor,” Wanggarrd said.
There was another battle between Evers and Republican lawmakers on Thursday over the statewide mask mandate. Republicans in the Assembly repealed the emergency order, but Evers immediately put a brand new one in place. Wanggarrd said that debate will have to be decided by the state’s highest court.
“I’m hoping the Supreme Court gets off their chairs and stands up and makes a decision here, but if that doesn’t happen like today or Monday, the legislature’s going to be back in court with the Supreme Court petitioning them to respond to this, because this is just outright not following your oath as an elected person,” he said.
If the state Supreme Court rules Gov. Evers’ continued emergency orders are unconstitutional, the state could lose up to $50 million in federal food assistance funds. When Congress approved that funding, the only requirement was that states' need to have an emergency health order in effect.