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Evers again demands PFAS money; Republicans say its game-playing

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(The Center Square) – Communities in Wisconsin dealing with PFAS pollution are again waiting on the finger pointing at the State Capitol to end.

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday held a news conference to blast Republican lawmakers for skipping a meeting he called to talk about a clean water plan that he vetoed.

Evers accused Republicans of ignoring PFAS pollution and leaving people to suffer with contaminated water.

“Think about the people of French Island, they’ve been messing with this for I’d say half a decade and they’re continuing to drink Culligan water,” the governor said. “It’s wrong. It’s wrong.”

The issue is $125 million that Republicans included in their clean water legislation.

The governor wants to spend that money, but he doesn’t want the rules that the Republican-controlled legislature says come with it.

Sen. Eric Wimberger, R-Green Bay, said the governor wants to treat landowners who find PFAS contamination on their land or in their water as polluters. Republicans, he said, don’t want to bankrupt those landowners, who he says are victims themselves.

“Gov. Evers ignored the desires of impacted communities with his veto, and now he attempts to distract from how he’s harmed us with a demand for a slush fund,” Wimberger said in a statement. “He doesn’t want to explain why he insists on punishing PFAS victims for pollution they didn’t cause.”

Evers said the problem is a lack of negotiation from legislative Republicans.

“Republicans are missing in action,” Evers told reporters at the Capitol. “Are we angry about that? I’ll just speak for myself, and the answer is yes. We should absolutely be getting that money out the door.”

Wimberger said it’s the governor who is MIA, and who is refusing to negotiate.

“Gov. Evers vetoed the $125 million plan to address PFAS,” Wimberger said. “I’ve repeatedly asked [the governor] and Legislative Democrats to provide language to protect PFAS victims that’s more to their liking, but they haven’t, and with this veto they’ve made it clear they want to be able to punish victims of PFAS and make them pay for pollution they didn’t cause.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Tuesday also dinged the governor for a lack of negotiation.

“Will the media actually ask if he’s offered to meet and negotiate with any GOP legislators after vetoing the PFA’s bill that passed the legislature?” Vos asked on Twitter. “It’s all just him huffing and puffing…no real substance.”

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