Gov. Tony Evers’ response to the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance’s rejection of Senate Bill 602

Gov. Evers has long been an advocate for the University of Wisconsin Missing in Action (MIA) Recovery and Identification Project, and that’s why he proposed creating a new, continuing appropriation for this project in state statute and providing $360,000 to support the project in his most recent state budget—nearly eight months before Senate Bill 602 was even introduced.

Unfortunately, Republicans in the Legislature cut this funding from the budget during the Joint Finance Committee process and rejected Legislative Democrats’ amendment to reintroduce the funding into the budget during the floor vote.

And when the governor’s budget measure was introduced as standalone legislation in the form of Senate Bill 602, Republican leaders again chose to play politics, rather than provide the funds needed for this important project—despite the bill passing unanimously by the Senate Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs and Constitution and Federalism, the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, and by the entire State Senate.

Republican leaders in the Assembly, including Speaker Robin Vos and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, are solely responsible for blocking this legislation from becoming law as it had widespread support from both Republicans and Democrats in both houses of the Legislature, and the governor had already expressed his support for this initiative.

Regardless of Republicans’ obstruction, the governor has continued to advocate for this project, and at his direction, members of our office have met with the University of Wisconsin System and requested that they identify other funding mechanisms to support this project in absence of direct state funding.

Relatedly, the governor’s support for our nation’s veterans extends beyond the MIA Recovery and Identification Project, and the most recent budget he signed into law included significant investments to support Wisconsin veterans, including increasing funding for Veterans Service Office grants and providing $200,000 toward suicide awareness and prevention and mental health services, especially for veterans in underserved communities and areas.

The governor also recently announced he was creating a Blue Ribbon Commission on Veteran Opportunity to develop new, innovative initiatives to support the more than 300,000 veterans who live in Wisconsin.

The Commission will examine the issues facing Wisconsin veterans today, including but not limited to employment and job training, post-service education, housing, stability of the Veterans Trust Fund, long-term care nursing quality and affordability, and mental and behavioral health initiatives.

Last month, the governor announced his appointments to the Commission, including leaders and members of the military and veteran community from around the state. More information can be found at the link below, should this be of interest to you:

Chet Agni (he/his)

Research and Press Specialist

Office of Governor Tony Evers