MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – The majority of Wisconsin Republicans’ plans to spend $ 3.2 billion on government stimulus packages are either illegal or may need to be repaid after impartial analysis of the fast-moving bills Legislator.
Republicans are trying to pass bills that will spend the federal money the way they want, rather than the way Democratic Governor Tony Evers intended. The law gives the governor control of most of the money and he has given few details about how he intends it to be spent. Evers has signaled that he will veto the Republican measures.
The legislature’s Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee, which writes the budget, passed a package of eleven bills in just one day on Wednesday after a hastily phoned hearing. Republicans argued the bills were their attempt to reach a compromise with the Democrats.
“Our goal with these bills is to work with the governor,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu. “Together we can choose the fund over those hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Democrats accused them of being hypocritical and engaging in Evers’ ideas.
“It seems to me that Republicans in Wisconsin have lost a guiding philosophy,” said Democratic MP Evan Goyke.
Legislators have a role to play with the governor in spending the federal money, LeMahieu said. It is also important to determine how the federal money will be spent as lawmakers work on drafting the next biennial state budget, which starts in July.
The bills indicate how to spend approximately $ 2.7 billion of government money, with an unspecified additional amount used for unemployment benefits.
However, the impartial Legislative Fiscal Bureau noted that three of the proposals include approximately $ 626 million in proposals for areas that may not be allowed under federal law. In addition, a proposed $ 1 billion property tax cut for all Wisconsin homeowners and unemployment insurance funds may have to be repaid by the state, the Fiscal Bureau said.
The tax bureau said it appears federal law would not allow Republican proposals to withdraw $ 250 million in bonds for transportation projects. $ 308 million loan for local road projects; and $ 68 million to replace a nationwide public safety communication system and increase the number of psychiatric beds at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.
Federal law generally stipulates that the money will be spent on responding to the coronavirus pandemic by the end of 2024. Replacing the revenue lost by the pandemic; Investments in water, sewage and broadband infrastructure; Pay top government employees up to $ 13 an hour; and paying non-governmental organizations that transport passengers and cargo for the government.
However, no specific guidelines were issued as to what the federal money could be used for, leading the Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau to determine that in many circumstances it is unclear whether the Republican bills would be acceptable.
Given that federal guidelines are not yet in place, concerns that the money will not be spent as proposed is “based on speculation at this point,” LeMahieu said.
Republican spending proposals that the Fiscal Bureau would allow included $ 500 million for broadband expansion; $ 200 Million for Small Business; $ 150 million for nursing homes and assisted living facilities; $ 75 million tourism grants; $ 61 million to fight water pollution; and $ 50 million for rural economic development.
Even if the legislature passes the measures, maybe next week, the bills face a likely veto by Evers. When asked about GOP plans to submit their own proposals, an Evers spokeswoman referred to his veto against a bill according to which the legislature should have signed the use of the money.
Evers said last week he plans to allocate $ 600 million of federal funds to small businesses. $ 50 million for the tourism industry; $ 200 million to upgrade infrastructure, including broadband access; and $ 500 million in pandemic action.