Governor Tony Evers said Tuesday that his administration has reached an agreement with the federal government to allow Wisconsin to continue to receive more than $ 70 million per month in food aid.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Evers said his administration had reached an agreement with the US Department of Agriculture and Food and Nutrition Services to ensure the state would continue to receive the benefits of food aid.
According to Evers, the USDA and FNS agreed to continue providing increased funding after Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake issued a new emergency declaration. That document, which Timberlake signed on April 8, directs the department to continue to lead Wisconsin’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts among other steps. The department has overseen the effort without a declaration.
“I am proud we are able to work with our federal partners to reach an agreement that will ensure we can continue to provide this vital resource to Wisconsinites across our state,” Evers said in a statement.
The prospect that Wisconsin could lose upgraded federal food aid came to light earlier this year, just before GOP lawmakers were scheduled to vote to lift Evers’ emergency order.
In a memo prompted by state representative Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, the Legislative’s nonpartisan budget office wrote that nearly 243,000 households in Wisconsin received the funds in January. Without a declaration of state emergency or disaster, the budget office wrote, the household would lose this additional benefit.
Evers’ office said the federal funds in question now amount to more than $ 70 million per month. When the matter was first reported in January, the Legislative budget office said the total was around $ 50 million.
When they learned of the prospect of losing federal funds, GOP lawmakers had their own proposal on how to preserve it, even though the idea turned out to be short-lived.
Republicans amended the broad COVID-19 bill to allow governors to issue emergency orders solely for the purpose of receiving federal funds. But they attach it to a controversial provision such as mandating bans on public and private vaccines and measures to give Legislative budget committees veto power over federal funding for COVID-19. Evers vetoed plan.
In the absence of an emergency governor’s order, and federal funds in jeopardy, Chairman of the Robin Vos Assembly, R-Rochester, said Tuesday morning that the solution would override the governor’s veto over the COVID-19 bill.
While Republicans can still try to override the veto for other reasons, Evers’ deal with President Joe Biden’s administration appears to clear up the federal funding question.
Vos spokesman and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Tuesday.