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Parisi pushes Johnson, Baldwin for more COVID-19 aid

Dane Co. Executive Joe Parisi holds news conference on August 10, 2020.
Dane Co. Executive Joe Parisi holds news conference on August 10, 2020.(WMTV-TV)
Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 12:13 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In an open letter to Wisconsin’s two senators, Dane Co. Executive Joe Parisi is pushing for more federal assistance for the county as it tries to cope with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the letter, Parisi explains to Sen. Ron Johnson and Sen. Tammy Baldwin how much Dane County’s slice of the $2 trillion CARES Act helped the region battle this first wave of the pandemic, protecting families and businesses, and warns that some services will soon need to end.

Primarily, he points to the Tenant Resource Center, writing that the $10 million it had to provide rental assistance is almost gone. Parisi argued that the program helped keep more than 13,000 people in their homes. Acknowledging that the extension of the moratorium on evictions will help, he pointed out that back rent still accumulates during that time and places pressures on the landlords as well as the renters.

“This pandemic is far from over and the only way forward is for the federal government to provide additional support for programs like these and more funding for testing and tracing,” he wrote.

Parisi also warned the Wisconsin Senators that without more federal help, the testing site at Alliant Energy Center would need to shut down. He adds that without that location the region would not be prepared to provide the testing capabilities needed for the upcoming flu season.

The letter also details many of the ways Dane County has allocated that first round of CARES money, including more than $10 million for small business assistance that he says provided relief to nearly 3,000 local companies and six million dollars for Second Harvest Food Bank that not only provided food for those in need, but also was designed to help area farmers and producers by buying locally.

In early August, Baldwin released a statement, alongside local leaders from around Wisconsin, in which she urged Senate Republicans to take up the House’s HEROES Act, which she explained included a half-trillion dollars for state, $375 billion for local governments, and $20 billion for tribes. In her statement, Baldwin noted that many state and county governments had turned to furloughs and she was concerned that, without more funding, those furloughs could turn into permanent job cuts.

“For months now, state and local governments have been on the frontlines of our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The House passed the HEROES Act, which includes more federal funding to our state and local governments in Wisconsin as they work to provide essential public services. Wisconsin towns, cities and counties need federal help to cover budgetary shortfalls that have resulted from this ongoing pandemic,” she said at the time.

Johnson, meanwhile, called for a halt in coronavirus relief, until it can gauge the impacts of the previous stimulus round. In a July op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he argued the government should determine what worked and what didn’t from that package. He also expressed concerns about the size of any new round of funding, questioning the House plan, which he said would provide financial support in excess of what GDP losses.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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