Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the Assembly is ready to go to court if Governor Tony Evers doesn’t allow Republicans to decide how the state will spend federal COVID-19 recovery funding.
On Tuesday, the State Assembly spent over 7 hours in debate on a series of contentious bills and resolutions signaling a return to tense standoffs with the Governor’s office. One of those bills was a measure that would require the Governor’s office to clear any plans on how to spend over $3 billion in federal funds with the Republican controlled Legislative Joint Finance Committee.
Vos says the Legislature has a right and duty to manage those relief dollars. “If for some reason the governor chooses to veto this bill we will have no choice but to go to court because the Constitution is crystal clear.” Vos also challenged Democrats in the Assembly to vote for the bill as well. “Because instead what you’ve chosen to do is just reflexively say I work for Tony Evers not my own District.”
Vos and other Republican leaders say the Governor should have no issue allowing the Legislature to oversee those funds, because that’s what happened during the Obama Administration, when Democrats asked for oversight for funding . The difference was that both the Legislature and the Governors office were in Democrat hands.
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz had a simple message for Republicans. “If there’s anybody among you that would like to be Governor, then run for Governor. But don’t try to take measures that tie the governor’s hands, that micromanage, because you don’t agree with him.”
Democrat Dianne Hesselbein agreed with Hintz, and said Governor Evers did a fine job spending money from the previous stimulus bill last year, and he’ll continue doing a fine job. “People needed our help and the Governor answered the call. Vote no on this bill. Once again, if you want to run for governor, have at it.”
The bill passed after over two hours of debate, but will almost certainly meet with a veto by Governor Evers.
A number of other bills passed the Assembly, and will also likely meet the veto. One bill requires the Governor’s office to start sending state office workers back to the office. Many non-essential employees are working from home while state buildings are closed due to the pandemic.
Speaker Vos says the Governor needs to come up with a plan to put all of Wisconsin’s state workers back into state buildings.
“Why are some people allowed to work from home While others like those who guard our prisons take care of those in nursing homes are on the job every day doing overtime?”
But Democrat Jodi Emerson says this is once again Republicans overstepping their authority in trying to directly control the executive branch.
“This is another example of the majority party wanting to control both the legislative branch and the executive branch. Well folks, we live in a world of shared government not Republican-controlled government.”
Other bills passed in the session would prevent both the state government and private businesses from requiring mandatory vaccinations and would prevent local health departments from closing places of worship because of the pandemic.
Republicans also signaled that they would be performing another investigation into the 2020 Presidential Election, and how the state collected votes.