$100 million for mental health, Wisconsin Assembly OKs bill

Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison

The Wisconsin Assembly on Tuesday passed a Republican-authored bill that would require Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to spend $100 million in COVID-19 relief funding on mental health programs in schools.

The measure approved on a party line 60-38 vote with all Republicans in support and Democrats against faces a nearly certain veto from Evers. He has already vetoed two similar bills that would direct how he spends COVID-19 funding from the federal government that is currently left to the discretion of the governor to hand out.

Evers' spokeswoman Britt Cudaback said when the bill was introduced earlier this month that Republicans were "playing politics" instead of making meaningful investments in Wisconsin schools and children.

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Evers proposed a $53.5 million increase in mental health funding for schools in his two-year state budget, but Republicans cut that to a $19 million increase.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Jon Plumer, of Lodi, said the measure was designed to address mental health needs of students who have been suffering throughout the pandemic.

No one was registered in opposition to the bill. Backers include the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, the Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools and the Institute for Reforming Government.

The measure would have to pass the Senate and be signed by Evers before becoming law.

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