Wisconsin Senate approves virus relief package

Wisconsin state capitol

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin state Senate approved a sweeping coronavirus relief package in a virtual session Wednesday.

The state Assembly overwhelmingly passed the legislation Tuesday in the first virtual legislative floor session in Wisconsin history. About two-thirds of the members attended the session via videoconferencing.

The bill would ensure that Wisconsin can capture the $2.3 billion coming to the state under a federal stimulus bill, including higher Medicaid payments and unemployment benefits. Lawmakers would be allowed to allocate up to $75 million in funding.

The bill will now go to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk.

The governor released a statement Wednesday afternoon on the bill’s passing, saying: “My pen has been waiting for weeks to sign legislation that guarantees Wisconsin will capture our fair share of federal dollars under the CARES Act and ensures workers experiencing unemployment and underemployment won’t be forced to wait an extra week for needed benefits to kick in. This bill is finally a step in the right direction, but there is much more work to be done.”

Evers’ said he will sign the bill, despite falling short of what he said the state needs to do to address the pandemic in Wisconsin.

“Our state is facing significant challenges as we respond to and prevent the spread of COVID19. The bottom line is that we have to do everything we can to keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe while also looking towards our economic recovery. People across our state are hurting.”