Wisconsin state and local governments could receive more than $2.2 billion from the federal government as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package signed on March 27 to address the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus.

The estimate was provided by the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office, the same day the U.S. House passed and President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Part of the act sets aside $150 billion in direct aid payments to state and local governments.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin could receive about $2.26 billion of that funding based on its population. About $1.9 billion would go directly to state government, according to the Fiscal Bureau.

The rest of Wisconsin’s direct aid payments would go to local governments with populations greater than a half-million people. They include the city of Milwaukee ($102.7 million), Milwaukee County ($164.5 million) and Dane County ($93.4 million).

The Fiscal Bureau memo suggested it was unclear whether states could use the funding to fill budget shortfalls that result from the coronavirus pandemic. Other outstanding questions include whether the state could use the funding to help cities and counties with populations smaller than a half-million people.

Before the coronavirus began its spread across the United States, Evers and Republicans had been sparring over how to use a projected surplus in Wisconsin’s state budget, with Governor Evers calling for increased school spending and Republicans pushing a tax cut, which the governor vetoed. But that surplus was based on an estimate of tax revenue growth that was conducted in January, making it obsolete now.

An unprecedented surge in unemployment claims and a dramatic slowdown in many sectors of the state’s economy could devastate Wisconsin’s budget, although the full depth of the economic fallout is not yet clear.

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