Governor stops in Green Bay highlighting fall of Medicaid expansion

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 10:36 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - “How many people would pass on a free $1 billion so that it could be used to recover from a pandemic,” said Governor Tony Evers during a stop in Green Bay, Tuesday.

He’s reacting to the legislature gaveling in and out of a Special Session called by him to expand Medicaid.

The move dashed Wisconsin’s chances for claiming federal funds that could be used on economic development projects, including moving the coal piles.

“We’re in the process of putting all of those puzzle pieces together and having the Governor identify $5 million for this project is hugely welcome,” said Mayor Eric Genrich.

The Governor says $2 million could have also been put toward the construction of the Experience Greater Green Bay Visitor Center. Money was included in a bill last year that stalled out due to the pandemic.

“The assembly passed it unanimously. It went to the Senate, the Senate was set to vote the following week, Covid hit, the senators went home and our bill died at the end of the year last year,” said Brad Toll, President and CEO of the Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Republicans say taking the money wouldn’t have been responsible and there’s already money from the American Rescue Plan set aside for those projects.

“The Governor has the money immediately available to him to spend on those projects. It’s financially and morally irresponsible to put $91,000 people on welfare when they have better access to more options available to them,” said Rep. David Steffen (R-Howard).

The Governor says he will continue to support funding for the projects, but says the core issue of the political divide is gerrymandering in the state.

“We tried hard to make this happen, but it’s clear the will of the republicans in the legislature wasn’t there,” said Gov. Evers. “To me it’s all about the issue of fair maps in Wisconsin, we’re a gerrymandered state. We have races that are not competitive which means that people don’t have to compromise and don’t have to seek common ground.”

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