Evers Vetoes Bill to Help Paper Mills

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Wisconsin Rapids residents Tanya Plantico, right, and Andy Martinez, left, food  adjacent   the Verso insubstantial  mill Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Plantico was amazed  erstwhile   she learned the mill was closing. “It was a immense  portion  of the community,” she said. Photo by Angela Major/WPR.

Wisconsin Rapids residents Tanya Plantico, right, and Andy Martinez, left, food adjacent the Verso insubstantial mill Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Plantico was amazed erstwhile she learned the mill was closing. “It was a immense portion of the community,” she said. Photo by Angela Major/WPR.

Advocates of a program to reopen 2 closed insubstantial mills accidental they anticipation to find a mode guardant aft Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a measure that would person funded $65 cardinal successful loans to assistance a caller cooperative acquisition the facilities.

The “mill bill” would person authorized the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to connection the loans to help a radical of timber professionals bargain and run shuttered mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Park Falls. It’s a program advocates accidental could let Wisconsin businesses to retake immoderate power implicit 1 of the state’s cardinal industries.

Making those loans imaginable is simply a precedence shared by Evers, a Democrat, and the Republican authors of the bill. But the backing root for those loans became a partisan showdown, culminating successful Evers’ veto connected Thursday.

The bill, authored by Republicans and passed with bipartisan support, would person paid for the loans from national COVID-19 alleviation funding. Evers had called for backing it with national inducement wealth that would travel with expanding Medicaid successful the state. In his veto statement, Evers repeated concerns that national guidelines mightiness prohibit that wealth from going to the mills, creating a hazard that Wisconsin would person to instrumentality funds to the national government, and said determination are inactive options to marque the loans possible.

“The authorities is successful a beardown fiscal position, capable (general intent revenue) is available, and utilizing authorities resources would supply greater flexibility connected statement presumption and little hazard to the state,” Evers wrote. “There is ample authorities backing disposable for this and different priorities.”

Rep. Scott Krug, R-Rome, 1 of the authors of the bill, said the veto came arsenic a blow.

“There was a measure connected the governor’s table that could get america a agelong mode toward a solution” of getting the Verso mill, which went idle successful mid-2020, backmost up and running, Krug said. “This is simply a large gut punch.”

Krug said legislators could effort to override Evers’ veto. The measurement passed 63-35 successful the Assembly and 20-12 successful the Senate, some of which are adjacent to the two-thirds threshold for overriding a veto. But it’s unclear whether determination are immoderate legislators unfastened to changing their votes.

If determination are different ways of backing the loans disposable to Evers, Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, said the politician should usage them.

“If the politician has the quality to unilaterally lick this occupation utilizing existing funds astatine WEDC oregon negotiating with the imaginable stakeholders, past I’m each for it,” Testin said. “I don’t attraction who gets recognition for getting the mills backmost up and running, but it needs to hap sooner alternatively than later. Because the longer these mill beryllium idle, the likelihood that they’ll reopen becomes slimmer and slimmer.”

In a connection on Friday afternoon, Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, said Republicans should person accepted an amendment to the measure that would person fixed the authorities “the ineligible certainty for the measure to go law.” Shankland voted for the measure contempt concerns.

Shankland said determination is inactive clip successful the existent legislative league for lawmakers to enactment connected the contented “and a surplus of authorities funds to gully from.”

“There’s nary crushed wherefore we can’t each travel together, bearing successful caput what we’ve learned from this attempt, and effort again,” she said.

In the twelvemonth since the Verso mill closed, laying disconnected 900 workers successful Wisconsin Rapids, section efforts person coalesced astir the recently formed Great Lakes Timber Cooperative, an offshoot of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association. The radical is seeking loans of $50 cardinal toward the acquisition of the Verso insubstantial mill successful Wisconsin Rapids and different $15 cardinal to assistance acquisition a smaller mill successful Park Falls.

The cooperative is not the lone enactment funny successful the Verso mill, but advocates accidental ownership of the mills by the timber cooperative could beryllium transformative. It would reconstruct section ownership to an manufacture that has been buffeted by planetary trends.

“Hopefully the particulate volition settee a small bit,” said Henry Schienebeck, manager of the Timber Professionals Association, and past “we’re hoping we get called successful to effort to assistance negociate immoderate benignant of a programme that volition enactment for everybody.”

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Evers’ Veto Of Bill To Help Paper Mills Reopens A ‘Gut Punch’ To Advocates was primitively published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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