Assembly Republicans pass bills to spend billions in federal aid despite warnings it might not be legal

NOW: Assembly Republicans pass bills to spend billions in federal aid despite warnings it might not be legal

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Assembly Republicans passed a package of bills to spend billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief aid despite warnings some of the proposals might not be allowed under federal guidelines. 

Wisconsin will receive $3.2 billion from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and while Governor Tony Evers has control over how those funds are spent, Republicans believe they should have a say as well instead of one person making those decisions. 

“I don’t think it’s right, it doesn’t matter which party does it, one person should not be dictating policy in the state of Wisconsin,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). 

The GOP bills would spend about $2.7 billion:

  • $1 billion for a property tax cut for all homeowners
  • $200 million in grants for small businesses
  • $75 million for the tourism industry
  • $150 million for long-term care facilities
  • $308 million to fix roads, $250 million to pay transportation bonds
  • $61 million to repair lead service lines 

However, some of the GOP bills might not be legal under federal law, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, who indicated they might not be permissible under the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Those include distributing funds to pay off transportation bonds, road repairs, and the state might have to pay back property tax cuts for Wisconsin homeowners, according to the Bureau. 

“Don’t push forward bills that would force us to spend money where we’re not allowed to spend money on, make us pay it back and mess up this entire process,” said Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit).

The State Senate will vote on the bills Wednesday, but their efforts will likely face a veto as Evers indicated the fate of the bills if they reach his desk, during a press conference in Milwaukee. 

Evers has not revealed all of his plans to spend the federal money but has announced $600 million for small businesses, $50 million for the tourism industry, $300 million on roads and infrastructure and $500 geared towards pandemic response efforts. 

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