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Evers Vetoes Republican Plans To Spend Federal COVID-19 Aid, Announces Small Business Grants

Program Will Send $420M In Grants To Businesses

Governor Tony Evers
File photo of Gov. Tony Evers. Shawn Johnson/WPR

Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a package of Republican-authored bills Thursday that would have directed how the state would spend billions in federal COVID-19 relief money.

The governor also detailed a plan to direct $420 million in federal funding to a grant program targeting small businesses.

Republicans passed 11 bills last week related to the funding attempting to insert themselves into the process of deciding how the new infusion of federal money is spent. Evers vetoed all of them.

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One of the bills would have directed $200 million toward small businesses, an amount Evers said “won’t cut it for me.”

Other vetoes include GOP bills that would have used federal money to make payments to property taxpayers and provide funding for rural development, tourism and broadband expansion. While the governor and Republican lawmakers agree on some of those issues, Evers has argued he is responsible for administering the relief money.

In a press release, Evers also announced details of a plan to send hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to Wisconsin small businesses hit by the pandemic.

According to the release, businesses grossing between $10,000 and $7 million annually would be eligible for awards of $5,000. The grant program could impact about 84,000 businesses in the state, according to the release.

The $420 million grant program is part of $600 million in federal spending that the governor had already designated for small business relief.

“We want small businesses to know that help is on the way,” Evers said in a statement. “We aren’t going to wait to get these funds out quickly to help small businesses restock shelves, catch up on bills, rehire and retain workers, and continue to help keep their customers, employees, and our communities safe as we work to bounce back together.”