(The Center Square) – The $1,400 stimulus checks for taxpayers are not the only payday included in the latest spending package out of Congress.

Wisconsin will receive nearly $5 billion in federal money as part of the American Rescue Plan. Of that, roughly $3.5 billion will go to state government, and the other $2 billion will go to local governments across Wisconsin.

Gov. Tony Evers has yet not said how he intends to spend the state’s share.

Evers on Monday announced a series of online listening sessions to coincide with his budget proposal.

“Our Badger Bounceback agenda is all about making sure our state can bounce back from COVID-19 better than we were before this pandemic hit,” Gov. Evers said.

“These Badger Bounceback Live Sessions are key opportunities to listen and learn from the people of our state in hopes that we can pass a bold, bipartisan budget that will address the urgent challenges facing our state so we can bounce back from this crisis.”

CJ Szafir with the Institute for Reforming Government said the governor should spend Wisconsin’s coronavirus stimulus money on things related to the coronavirus.

“Gov. Evers, to the extent he has flexibility, should allocate federal dollars to assist in the vaccine roll-out, schools that are open five days a week including private [schools], restaurants and retail that due to no fault of their own still have significantly less foot traffic, and people who are truly in need,” Szafir told The Center Square on Monday.

Top Republicans in the state legislature on Friday introduced legislation to give themselves some say in how Wisconsin’s stimulus money will be spent.

Szafir says that’s a good idea, but he doubts it will happen.

“As a co-equal branch of government, the legislature should absolutely have a say on how the funds are allocated,” Szafir said. “Unfortunately if past is prologue, Evers will not include them.”

Gov. Evers’ budget plan includes $8 billion in new spending, and $1.6 billion in new taxes.

Szafir says the new stimulus package renders unnecessary the governor’s proposed tax increases.

“[This] recent spending package is another reason why Evers’ proposed budget is devoid of reality,” Szafir said.

“Governor Evers wants unprecedented spending by the state government to accompany unprecedented spending by the federal government,” he continued.

“The legislature should try to take the federal stimulus into account in their budgeting and adopt a pro-growth budget that gets Wisconsin into the best position to re-open this summer.”

Reposted from The Center Square with permission.

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