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Wisconsin Revenue Secretary: More stimulus is good, targeted stimulus is better

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(The Center Square) – There is a growing appetite for targeted help for businesses in Wisconsin as opposed to a sweeping stimulus-for-all.

The head of Wisconsin’s Way and Means Committee on Wednesday said many businesses in the state continue to struggle because of the coronavirus, but not all businesses are struggling equally.

“The little dress shop where my wife works, they needed all of their Paycheck Protection Program money. They burned through it all, they could use some more, and they have a viable future. Bars and restaurants, clearly that’s another case [of need].” Ways and Means Chairman John Macco, R-DePere, said. “But all of our companies, everybody else who I know that got PPP never used a penny of it. Never needed it. Continued to move forward.”

Macco told Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca that he is more interested in finding the businesses and industries in Wisconsin that truly need help.

Barca agreed.

“I think virtually every economist would tell you that some additional stimulus would really be beneficial. But they would also [agree] with your point that the more targeted it can be, the better,” Barca said during Wednesday’s hearing at the State Capitol.

Barca said his agency and the WEDC tried to target some of the $2 billion in CARES Act money that Wisconsin has already seen from the federal government. The largest chunk of monetary aid the state received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act went to state and local governments. But about $1 billion went to large industries (like agriculture and logging) or specific support for smaller businesses (like local movie theaters or live music venues.)

Macco said any new stimulus should be reserved for businesses or industries that are poised to move forward after the outbreak.

“We certainly want to be sensitive to those [industries] that need help,” Macco explained. “But by the same token, I think we need to talk to some really smart people and say ‘Where are we going with this? And what will the economy look like in Wisconsin?’.”

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday said Wisconsin will not be able to keep pace with the coronavirus or the recovery without another round of stimulus from Washington.

“This is a federal issue not a Wisconsin issue,” the governor said. “We absolutely need the help of the federal government.”

By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission