Wisconsin governor moves forward with equipment purchases

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers sits for an interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019.
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Gov. Tony Evers' administration said he is purchasing 10,000 ventilators and one million masks in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The supplies will go to the Wisconsin healthcare workers at the front lines. This comes after a dispute with Republican lawmakers on a sweeping bill from Gov. Evers, calling for $700 million for people struggling in Wisconsin during the pandemic.

The effort comes after Evers' administration had clashed with Republican lawmakers over whether he needed their permission to make such purchases.

NBC15 received a letter from the GOP on Saturday. Republican lawmakers said the governor had the authority to make those purchases.

"Again, we implore you. Please do not wait any longer to buy ventilators and masks. Do it now," according to the joint letter from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to Gov. Evers.

A spokesperson for Gov. Evers responded to the letter, saying his administration wanted legislative approval because of the size of the purchase.

Evers' chief of staff said Saturday night that the administration has been making smaller purchases and will now move forward with the large purchase of ventilators and masks.

Wisconsin is also receiving $2 billion from the federal government under the $2 trillion plan signed by President Trump on Friday. Evers is asking lawmakers to pass a resolution that would extend the state's public health emergency, which lasts 60 days, to extend "infinitely," until the emergency is over.