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As I See It

WI should crack down on unemployment fraud



It makes sense for the state to crack down on those claiming fraudulent benefits. It is a serious problem in Wisconsin. But so far, lawmakers have chosen to pursue punitive measures, like trying to restrict whether people on food stamps should be able to eat crab, or be forced to shop from a list of healthy items. But a new measure being considered in Madison would focus the state’s attention not on what they eat, but whether they deserve the benefits in the first place. The Legislature’s Finance Committee is considering adopting stiffer penalties for those committing unemployment benefit fraud. Right now, the fines for illegally claiming unemployment benefits in Wisconsin is a slap on the wrist. $500 in fines and up to 90 days in jail. This legislation, if approved, would create criminal penalties of up to $25,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. This type of fraud is rampant in Wisconsin. Fraudulent overpayments totaled more than $20 million last year. And most of those committing fraud already have a job, but claim they don’t. When people cheat the system, they are not only stealing from us taxpayers, but also from those who are not acting fraudulently. It is good to see the state considering cracking down on those who cheat the system, rather than everyone who is poor and in need of a helping hand.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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