Yes, GOP did oppose $40 million for lead pipe replacement because it helped Milwaukee too much

Has Milwaukee’s position as Wisconsin’s largest city and Democratic stronghold put Brewtown in the crosshairs of Republicans?

Milwaukee State Senator Chris Larson alluded to the Republicans’ treatment of the city in a tweet on October 26, 2020 during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

“I’m so glad we have a governor who cares and wants to help WI cities achieve 0% lead pipes. Unfortunately, the Republicans cut $ 40 million from the budget for replacing lead pipes in 2019 – because they thought this helped MKE too much. ”

That caught our attention.

Has Republican lawmaker cut the budget for lead pipe replacement because it would help Milwaukee too much?

Evers’ proposal

Under Evers’ plan, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, state officials borrowed nearly $ 40 million over the two-year budget to create a forgivable loan program for local governments to help fund lead pipe replacements. The borrowing would also have created a separate grant program that would allow farmers to build infrastructure aimed at reducing pollution and eliminating pollutants in the Milwaukee River and the St. Louis Rivers of northwest Wisconsin.

Evers’ proposal would have paid up to 50 percent of the cost of replacing a lead water pipe in Milwaukee if the city had qualified for the state program.

According to the Milwaukee Water Works, the city’s drinking water does not contain lead when it leaves sewage treatment plants.

However, there is a danger in the water, especially in older homes, as old utility lines leading to individual homes and indoor plumbing can contain lead that can get into the water. The most basic solution in Milwaukee and elsewhere is to replace the old pipes with copper pipes. However, other intermediate steps can make a difference, e.g. B. Ensuring that homes at risk have filters on their taps.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even low levels of lead in the blood can be shown to cause developmental delays and learning difficulties in children. Lead exposure also harms adults who may have high blood pressure, joint pain, headaches, and an increased risk of miscarriage or premature birth.

As of December 31, 2019, Milwaukee Water Works reported 74,416 senior service lines in their service area, according to Brian DeNeve, public works spokesman. Around 70,000 of them are residential buildings.

These 70,000 household lines make up about 40% of the total nationwide utility lines.

The proposed $ 40 million in bonds could have resulted in the replacement of 9% of the state’s 170,000 lines still in operation, the Evers government estimated.

GOP response

When spokesman Justin Bielinski was asked to endorse Larson’s testimony, he referred to news articles detailing the GOP’s objections to the Evers proposal.

Congregation spokesman Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the plan was too expensive.

“I think the easy answer was just to say the government has to pay for all of these side-by-side replacements,” Vos said, according to an April 10, 2019 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But the number across the country is trillions of Dollars that, in Wisconsin at least, we will never be able to do such things anywhere in the state. “

In the same article, Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, who chairs the Legislature’s Budget Committee, highlighted Milwaukee funding.

“I understand the proposal – the vast majority of it – goes to Milwaukee,” said Nygren. “We had targeted our response to the key issue as a local opportunity for the communities to get involved and help locally, rather than having Marinette people fund the replacement of lead in Milwaukee. I’m not sure that from a taxpayer is necessarily fair. ” Position.”

A video titled “Milwaukee Tries To Pass On Lead In Lead Replacement” posted on YouTube by the MacIver Institute on May 20, 2019 shows Vos praising Madison’s efforts to self-replace lead side panels without a government mandate , and notes that side panels belong to homeowners, not taxpayers.

“The city of Madison has done a great job over the past twelve years to get rid of the lead sides on its own without a government mandate,” Vos said.

In the video, Vos says that those who have already paid to upgrade their side panels now don’t have to pay the cost of replacing other people’s side panels. In its description of the video, the MacIver Institute, a conservative think tank, describes this as a “handout” from state taxpayers to the city.

In May 2019, the legislature voted politically to remove many of Evers’ key proposals from its state budget, including the headline proposal.

In short, before cutting the budget, several GOP leaders cited the fact that too much of it was going to Milwaukee. But they also cited other factors, including whether a state taxpayer-funded effort was an appropriate way to address the problem.

Our decision

In a tweet, Larson said, “In 2019, Republicans cut $ 40 million from their lead pipe replacement budget – because they thought it helped MKE too much.”

At least two leaders opposed the program, in part leading the amount of money that would go to the City of Milwaukee. But other factors were also cited.

Our definition of “Mostly True” is “The statement is correct but needs clarification or additional information.”

That fits here.

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