Amount of federal relief aid designated for economic recovery, pandemic response likely to change, Evers says

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Governor Tony Evers plans to spend billions to help rebuild Wisconsin’s economy and respond to the pandemic are likely to change after learning the state will get far less than it expected in federal relief aid.

The U.S. The Department of Treasury announced Tuesday Wisconsin will receive $2.5 billion, which is $700 million less than original estimates showed. The decline in revenue is because Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is better than other states, which is the formula used to determine how much each receives.

“Obviously that $700 million makes a difference, it’s $700 million we can’t help small businesses and others to recover as quickly as we wanted to,” Evers said.

The Evers administration already announced $420 million will be set aside for small business recovery grants and $50 million for the tourism industry.

Those commitments are not expected to change, according to an Evers spokeswoman, but $2.5 billion the administration wanted to spend on economic relief and pandemic response is expected to shift based on the reduction in funding.

“It may impact some of the amounts when we think about the areas of the state that have been struggling,” Evers said.
Wisconsin is also supposed to get stimulus funding in two payments, a year apart, which Evers said will “create some differences” in what they’ll spend the money on.

Democrats in Congress, Rep. Mark Pocan and Sen. Tammy Baldwin are calling on the Treasury Department to send all that money at once instead of waiting until next year.

“It is crucial money, and we want to fight for every dollar,” said Pocan. “We are going to see if there might be another way to look at those unemployment statistics.”

Governor Evers has the authority to spend the federal relief aid how he wants. Republican lawmakers continue to ask Evers to meet with them to talk about his plans to spend the money.

“We still feel that we would like the governor to meet with us and talk to us about how the federal money will be spent so we can include it in our discussions in the budget,” said Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam).

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