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Evers against lottery to reward vaccination; lawmakers open to other incentives


MADISON (WKOW) -- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine turned a lot of heads this week when he announced the state was going to launch five $1 million drawings to reward residents who've been vaccinated.

Gov. Tony Evers said Friday, while it's a creative idea, he doesn't see it as something he would want to pursue in Wisconsin.

"I just question the use of that money for that purpose," Evers said to reporters. "I think there's a lot of businesses and others across the state that have suffered dramatically and a million dollars would go a long way here in Wisconsin."

DeWine's proposal may be the most outside-the-box incentive put forth yet by states seeking to address vaccine hesitancy. It has come under criticism from some in the public health world who believe it will only make people more suspicious of the vaccine and also question whether it's the most effective way to spend $5 million in federal relief money.

Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said Friday he was open to the state spending some of its relief money on a vaccine education and incentive campaign.

"I think it's fair to use some of that federal money to educate folks on what the vaccine is and how it works," Born said. "And if there's some incentives, I don't know that's a wrong approach."

Evers has asserted he will control how the state will spend the $2.5 billion it now expects to receive through the American Rescue Plan Act. Born said GOP lawmakers will still have some discussions about incentive ideas but added it's not a legislative priority at the moment.

"Since it's something that's been put out there now, we'll probably have some caucus discussions on it," Born said. "I look forward to hearing other ideas on it. It's not something I'm focused on working on now, myself."

At the federal level, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said she was also open to material incentives but what she had in mind was much closer to five dollars in value than five $1 million drawings.

"I'm not against incentives," Baldwin said. "I'm not sure I would propose the same thing as Gov. DeWine but whether it's free pizza or cheese curds, however we do it, I'm for a mix of all strategies."

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