Evers Wants Unemployment Insurance Reforms
GOP controlled legislature refuses to take up reform bills.
Gov. Tony Evers urged the Legislature Thursday to stop sitting on his proposal to update the state’s beleaguered unemployment insurance (UI) system.
GOP legislative leaders have ignored the governor’s special session call to pass bills to fix the system, gaveling in Jan. 19 and adjourning without action. Evers has proposed legislation to modernize the system at an initial cost of $5.3 million. The full rehab would require a 10-year project with a potential cost of $90 million.
After the special session call, instead of taking up on Evers’ proposed legislation, Republican leaders have been claiming that the governor could act unilaterally to implement his proposed solution.
In a television interview aired Jan. 17, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) asserted that Evers “has all the flexibility to find the money necessary to complete what he wants to complete on this.”
A fact-check published Wednesday by PolitiFact called that statement “Mostly false.” “It’s clear funds will need to be set aside across multiple years. And the way to approve such ongoing funding is through the budget — which must pass the Legislature,” the PolitiFact article stated.
In his letter to the Legislature Thursday, Evers quoted that passage. “In light of this, I am hopeful these findings will inspire immediate and bipartisan legislative action that this problem deserves,” the governor wrote. He noted that the problems with the system were raised in the Great Recession of 2008, only to surface again in the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that “it would be callous and irresponsible for any elected official to sit around and wait for the next economic crisis while taking no action to remedy a predictable outcome.”
Evers continued: “Replacing this system will take years, that’s why it should have been done years ago, and it’s why I am urging you today to give this issue immediate consideration and action and to send me a clean bill on modernization. I believe — and I sure hope you would agree — that this time Wisconsinites deserve better than getting the runaround. This problem and the people we serve cannot and should not have to wait. Again. And here’s the bottom line: I don’t care who gets the credit, I just want to get it done.”
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.