Saying the entire pot of $140 million national foreclosure funds should go to Wisconsin homeowners and not to help plug a hole in the state budget, state Democratic Representatives Cory Mason and Tamara Grigsby introduced legislation to make it happen.
Called the FAIR Act (Foreclosure Aid, Integrity, and Relief), the bill would force Governor Scott Walker to use some $25.6 million to help homeowners across the state.
According to a story on Forbes.com, Wisconsin's share of a $25 billion settlement with five of the largest banks that participated in illegal mortgage practices will be $140 million. $31 million of that money is marked for the state to help fund "future law enforcement efforts, providing additional relief to borrowers, paying civil penalties, funding of foreclosure relief programs and to compensate the state for its losses from the crisis."
But WBAY in Green Bay reports the decision to use $26 million of that $31 million to help plug a projected $143 million hole in the state budget was made by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen in consultation with Walker. The Governor reportedly said that state finances have been affected by the mortgage crisis so using the funds in this manner is appropriate.
In a written release, Mason said, "The middle class families in Wisconsin who are dealing with the foreclosure crisis have already been ripped off once by Wall Street. I will not stand by and let them be ripped off again by Scott Walker.”
FOX 6 News quoted Cullen Werwie, press secretary for the Governor's office as saying, "Governor Walker supports allocating the funding from the banks based on the terms contained in the settlement. The vast majority of funding from the banks will go to Wisconsin homeowners.”
But Mason and Grigsby don't agree with this reasoning. Their FAIR Act pushes that $25.6 million into programs to help victims of the foreclosure schemes and to help fund programs for tenants and veterans awho might be facing foreclosure and homelessness.
“Scott Walker’s raid of these funds takes money right out of the pockets of families hit hard by the foreclosure crisis,” said Mason. “The legislation Rep. Grigsby and I are introducing will ensure that the funds received from this foreclosure settlement are used for their intended purpose: preventing additional foreclosures and assisting those Wisconsin homeowners whose lives have been upended by foreclosure.”
Both representatives are hoping for bipartisan support for what they call "this common sense proposal."