By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday that he will announce within weeks, without input from Republican lawmakers, how he will spend all of the $3.2 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds coming to Wisconsin.
State law gives the governor, a Democrat, control over how to spend the money. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed bills ordering the money be spent on cutting property taxes, funding local road projects and in other areas, but Evers vetoed them all. He also vetoed a bill that would have required any spending of the money to go through the Legislature.
When asked at a news conference if he would discuss his plans for spending the money with Republicans leaders, Evers said that was not a “top priority.”
“The top priority is getting the money out the door,” he said.
Evers said he had a call later Tuesday with the federal government to discuss the timeline for disbursing the money and details on his plans could be coming soon.
“We anticipate we’ll get the information we need within a couple of weeks,” Evers said.
Evers has already announced up to $420 million of that money coming to the state would go toward a grant program targeting small businesses. He has promised to spend $600 million of the federal money on small businesses. He also has promised to spend $50 million on tourism, $200 million on infrastructure, including broadband access and $500 million on pandemic response measures, but has not released details.
Republicans who control the Legislature’s budget committee have said the job of writing the next two-year budget is complicated by Evers’ not saying yet how all the federal money will be spent. The Joint Finance Committee holds an all-virtual, final public hearing on the budget on Wednesday.
“The Joint Finance Committee will be able to do work on the budget,” Evers said.
The Legislature’s budget committee is expected to start taking votes on Evers’ budget proposal as soon as next week. The spending plan runs from July through June 2023. It must also pass the Legislature and be signed by Evers, who has broad veto powers, before it becomes law.