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Evers reaches deal with federal government to keep $70 million per month in food benefits

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to preserve more than $70 million per month in federal food benefits that were set to expire at the end of the month.

The governor’s office announced the agreement Tuesday afternoon.

“More than $70 million a month means we can get support to a lot of folks across our state who are still struggling in the midst of a pandemic and need help putting food on the table,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m proud we were able to work with our federal partners to come to an agreement that will ensure we can keep providing these critical resources to Wisconsinites across our state.”

The benefits were at risk of being lost after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the governor’s emergency order last month. The federal program for additional food assistance funding is set to run through June, but Wisconsin stood to lose $50 million each in May and June because of the Court’s decision, because states need to have an emergency order in place in order to receive the benefits from the federal government.

Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said if the Court had waited one more day to make their ruling, benefits for May would have been secured.

The governor’s office says he worked with the USDA and the Food and Nutrition Service to find a way to secure those benefits, even as the Supreme Court case was being heard and deliberated. Ultimately, the USDA and FNS agreed to allow states to gain approval for two months, rather than a single month, of SNAP benefits.

The Republican-controlled state legislature did pass a bill that would have preserved that funding, but packaged that bill with others that were opposed by Democrats. The measure was eventually vetoed by Evers.

Lawmakers could have introduced a standalone bill to preserve the benefits, but Assembly Speaker Robin Vos opposed the idea, and instead invited Democratic lawmakers to join Republicans in overriding the governor’s veto.

But Evers hinted at what he called a “workaround” with the federal government during a DHS briefing Tuesday. The governor indicated he had reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to secure the funding, saying he would have “some very good news in the near future.”

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