Reflecting on Two Years of COVID-19

In the last couple of years, all of us – across party lines, tax brackets, and zip codes – have experienced loss, hardships, and countless ups and downs.

March 11, 2022 marks two years since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. But a lot has changed since early March 2020.

Just months into the pandemic, Wisconsinites turned out in record numbers to elect a president who believes in science and puts people before party. Nearly nine million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Wisconsin since 2020, allowing many of us to once again feel comfortable seeing our friends, embracing our loved ones, and heading back to classrooms.

This month also marks the one year anniversary of President Joe Biden signing into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), allowing our governor to allocate billions of dollars in pandemic relief funds to help us bounce back.

Because of Gov. Tony Evers’ prompt action, $1 billion went to support Wisconsin’s small businesses in the wake of the pandemic. Thanks to that support, more than 100,000 small business owners in Wisconsin were able to keep their doors open, and 3,000 were able to open new storefronts.

Our governor declared 2021 the year of broadband access – and he lived up to that promise, using ARPA funds to invest in internet infrastructure and writing a budget that prioritized high speed internet service across Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, though, not all of our elected officials have been willing to work together to help their constituents get through the last two years. From the start of the pandemic to now, conservative politicians in Wisconsin have shown us that they’re more interested in their own political advantage than helping the rest of us.

Republicans in the state legislature have taken every opportunity to block our governor from allocating pandemic relief funds to Wisconsin families, business owners, and so many residents who need help now more than ever.

Those same Republicans earned our government the title of least active state legislature in the nation at various points in 2020, according to a media review from WisPolitics. In 2022, they’ve already gone home for the year, ending the legislative session before the snow has melted.

But thankfully, Gov. Evers and other progressives didn’t join conservatives in sitting idle – instead, they sprung to action, making Wisconsin first in the country in aid allocated to businesses, and second in the country for aid directed to economic development throughout the pandemic.

Over the last two years, our governor has built a strong economy, provided financial stability to Wisconsin families, supported Wisconsin’s small businesses, and created healthier and more equitable communities across our state.

Now more than ever, Gov. Evers is doing what needs to be done: he’s putting the people of Wisconsin first.

This year, our governor introduced a plan to use Wisconsin’s budget surplus to provide a $150 tax rebate to every Wisconsin resident, and invest nearly $750 million in our children’s education, higher education, and job training. Under the proposal, we’d see more than $130 million in tax savings. But legislative Republicans refused to take action.

Together, we can ensure that Wisconsin continues to bounce back. But in order to do that, Wisconsinites need unified support from all of our elected officials to build on the work being done by Gov. Evers and other progressives, and create a community where all of us can thrive.

Call your local legislator today and let them know that, two years into this pandemic, there’s still more work to be done.

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A Better Wisconsin Together is a state-based research and communications hub for progressives and is an affiliate of ProgressNow.