Madison (WKOW) -- Wisconsin leaders are squabbling over how to secure funding for additional personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, who are facing shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos sent a letter to Gov. Tony Evers Saturday afternoon.
The Republicans are not happy the governor is asking the Legislature for what they call a "blank check" for more than $500 million, as the state waits for money from the federal government.
"[O]ur current general fund balance can’t support that request, so we are very concerned about the impact on other vital parts of state government if we are not careful in the use of state dollars. It is why every day this week when we spoke, we expressed a need to not convene the legislature until President Trump signed the CARES Act," the letter states.
It goes on to say the CARES Act was signed into law Friday night, and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau has confirmed Wisconsin will receive $1.9 billion.
"Again, we implore you. Please do not wait any longer to buy ventilators and masks. Do it now," Fitzgerald and Vos said in the letter.
The governor's office responded, fighting back.
"I must express my disappointment that instead of working together to address COVID-19 in Wisconsin, it seems you are more interested in having political squabbles that are not focusing on the actual fight—saving lives and working to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our state," said Chief of Staff Maggie Gau.
Gau's letter goes on to say the federal government’s efforts have not provided the needed resources and said the call for state money is also based on reports of state-acquired supplies and equipment being diverted by the federal government to other states.
The governor's office says the state has already bought $7.46 million in medical supplies, using state and regional consortiums to get an additional $400 million in supplies, personnel, and facilities.