Press Release: Gov. Evers Delivers Radio Address Urging Legislature to Release Funds to Fight PFAS Statewide, Stabilize Healthcare Access in Western Wisconsin

Office of Governor Tony Evers
Gov. Evers Delivers Radio Address Urging Legislature to Release Funds to Fight PFAS Statewide, Stabilize Healthcare Access in Western Wisconsin
Audio File to Radio Address.

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today delivered the Democratic Radio Address urging the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance to expeditiously release $140 million in already-approved funding to fight PFAS statewide and stabilize healthcare access in Western Wisconsin after HSHS and Prevea Health’s decision to close several locations in the region, respectively. Gov. Evers this week announced he is calling the committee into a special meeting set to occur on April 16, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. More information about the governor’s special meeting is available here.

The $140 million investment includes $125 million to combat PFAS contamination across the state that was made available through the 2023-25 biennial budget passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature and enacted by Gov. Evers last July. The PFAS funding has languished unspent in Madison for more than nine months.

The remaining $15 million of the $140 million awaiting the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee’s action is crisis response resources to help stabilize the healthcare industry and healthcare access in Western Wisconsin. Over a month ago now, Gov Evers signed 2023 Wisconsin Act 97 to secure $15 million in crisis response resources to support healthcare access in Western Wisconsin. Gov. Evers approved Act 97 with improvements through line-item vetoes that provide additional flexibility for the $15 million crisis response investment, enabling the resources to be used to fund any hospital services meeting the area’s pressing healthcare needs, including urgent care services, OB-GYN services, inpatient psychiatry services, and mental health substance use services, among others. Without the governor’s vetoes, these services would not have been eligible under the legislation. JFC continues to let these funds sit idle in Madison, even as HSHS closed HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls on March 22, 2024—approximately a month earlier than had previously been announced—underscoring the urgent need for these funds to be released and distributed to partners in the community working to offset the burden of these closures.

A transcript of the governor's radio address is available below.

Hey there, Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers here.  


Folks, right now, there’s $140 million in already-approved funding just sitting in Madison that could be going out the door to help families and communities across our state.    


That includes $125 million to fight PFAS contamination statewide that I signed into law more than 280 days ago.  


And more than 40 days ago, I signed a bill to secure $15 million in crisis response resources to help ensure folks in Western Wisconsin have access to the healthcare services they need when and where they need them in the wake of local hospitals closing their doors.

It’s now been weeks since HSHS closed its doors for good, leaving moms and babies without OB-GYN services, and patients across the region without access to mental health and substance use treatment, urgent care, and so much more.

And instead of putting this funding to use for the people of the state, the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee has let these investments sit in Madison unspent.   


Obviously, that’s breathtaking. These issues get worse and more expensive with each day of delay.  


So, I’m using my power as governor to call the Joint Committee on Finance into a special meeting on April 16th, and I’m again urging Republican lawmakers to do the right thing and finally release these funds once and for all.

It’s time for Republicans to stop obstructing and playing politics and get to work addressing the real and pressing needs facing our state.

Wisconsinites shouldn’t have to wait any longer than they already have for these funds to be released—it’s about doing the right thing for our kids, our state, and our communities. Simple as that.  


Thank you.  

An online version of this release is available here.