Dear Editor,

I appreciate the opportunity to add some facts to the Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial regarding state funding for homelessness prevention that the EagleHerald recently published (Dec. 30).

On Feb. 21, 2019, with Rep. Jim Steineke’s leadership, Republicans introduced a package of bills reforming and funding the state’s programs that combat homelessness. The bills were based on recommendations from the Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the state’s response to homelessness, and Gov. Evers included these bills in his budget.

Respecting the normal legislative process, the Finance Committee, in the budget, set aside funding for the bills that were moving through the Legislature. Gov. Evers signed the budget into law. This process is neither unprecedented nor unusual.

Gov. Evers claims the additional funding is needed urgently. A recent check by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau of state appropriations meant to address homelessness shows that Gov. Evers’ administration is sitting on over $3.2 million meant to address homelessness. Even more concerning, the administration doesn’t intend to award most of this money until next summer.

Interestingly, Gov. Evers met with Rep. Steineke, the bills’ main author, three weeks ago and Gov. Evers said nothing about the bills to Rep. Steineke. Even worse, Gov. Evers has attended only one of four Interagency Council on Homelessness meetings, a council Gov. Evers chairs. Actions speak louder than words.

Clearly, this is the latest attempt by staff in the governor’s office to create positive headlines for Gov. Evers. The Assembly has already passed the bills and I was proud to vote for them. If Gov. Evers were serious about addressing homelessness he would attempt to work with the Senate to pass the bills. Unfortunately, yet again, he seems more interested in political games than in working across the aisle to solve problems.

 

John Nygren

State Rep, 89th District in the Wisconsin Assembly