Governor Evers: Small Businesses will Remain a Priority for Federal COVID-19 Aid, Despite Funding Cut

Support for small businesses, restaurants and bars will remain a priority for federal COVID-19 stimulus money in Wisconsin despite a $700 million decline in anticipated aid, Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Treasury announced Monday that Wisconsin will receive $2.5 billion in aid under the latest federal coronavirus bill — $700 million less than Congressional Research Service estimated the state would receive when the bill passed. The department also said it plans to disburse money to some states, including Wisconsin, in two payments staggered 12 months apart, rather than a lump sum. States set to receive staggered payments saw lower unemployment rates increases during the pandemic.

Evers, who controls how federal money directed to the state is spent, had already announced plans to spend $2.5 billion on economic development aid, $500 million on continued pandemic response and $200 million on infrastructure, including statewide broadband expansion.

In his initial plan, Evers said $600 million would be directed to small businesses, including the continuation of a grant program funded by previous federal coronavirus response bills. According to the state Department of Administration, about 53,000 small businesses statewide have already received about $125 million through a state recovery program funded by the first federal coronavirus aid bill and second federal COVID-19 bill, which passed in December.