We have finally seen the Assembly GOP package in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and it is severely lacking in anything that looks like solid solutions for Wisconsinites. It’s mystifying that the majority party has not been able to come up with a sensible solution. They have had almost 8 full months to come up with a solution, and yet this bill package still seems rushed and poorly thought out. Not only have they proposed numerous policies that likely don’t have the support of Governor Evers, but it appears that they didn’t even work with the GOP-controlled state senate to come to an agreement.
The Assembly GOP COVID-19 package includes provisions that would:
- Require state employees to return to work in person
- Consolidate power in the hands of the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee by requiring approval from the committee for any COVID-19 vaccination plan from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services
- Place limits on local health departments’ ability to respond to COVID-19
- Increase bureaucratic red tape by requiring legislative micro-management of federal COVID-19 funds
- Place restrictions on the ability of local school boards to respond to COVID-19, and places financial restraints on school districts as they deal with the pandemic
- Require school districts to provide pay to parents if the district provided virtual instruction for students in response to COVID in their communities at any time during the 2020-2021 school year
- Force teachers to provide instruction in school buildings
This is not a bill package aimed at fighting a pandemic or giving relief to those negatively affected by a pandemic. The majority party is using a relief bill as a Trojan horse to give itself more power over the governor’s agencies, crush local control, and throttle public school districts. It’s a cynical political ploy. Assembly Republicans are pretending to act while actually trying to advance partisan political agendas that they might not be able to normally pass.
Forcing in-person work and instruction is not a way to fight a pandemic. It would in fact do the opposite. Restricting the ability of local governments and school districts to take action against COVID-19 spread is not going to help stop the pandemic. The “party of smaller government” is inserting itself as a middle- man in vaccination approval plans and federal COVID funds.
Simply put, this is a not a serious response to the COVID-19 pandemic from the Assembly GOP. It has no chance of passing the State Senate before the end of the year, let along get to Governor Evers desk. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos needs to swallow his pride, call Governor Evers and the Senate Majority leader, and hash out a plan that works for Wisconsin- not just his caucus.