This week the Assembly gave final approval to the Truth in Spending Act, SB 183, which provides legislative oversight for the allocation of federal COVID dollars. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will provide the state of Wisconsin with $5.7 billion; $3.2 billion of the total amount will go directly to state government. Under current law, the governor would have sole discretion of spending the stimulus money.
Billions of taxpayer dollars should not be in the hands of a single person. Under the Truth in Spending Act, we are simply asking the governor to include others in the decision-making process. Not only will this legislation allow for public input, it will also provide transparency. The legislation would require the governor's spending decisions to go through the passive review process in the Joint Finance Committee.
Unfortunately, it seems like Democrats want to have a piggy bank where they can hand out the money with no oversight, no transparency and no ability to judge whether it’s the best decision until after the money is out the door.
This bill is not unprecedented. More than half of the states in our country have legislative input as to where federal stimulus dollars are spent. (See graphic below.) Also, similar legislative oversight measures were in place in 2009 when Democrats were in control of the legislature when the state dispersed federal stimulus dollars following the Great Recession.
We look forward to having a transparent approach to the pandemic recovery and working with the governor on what’s best for Wisconsin.