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As I See It

Wisconsin still can’t get unemployment fix right



Few have been as hard hit by the pandemic as those who lost their jobs in Wisconsin. That’s because Wisconsin dropped the ball in efforts to help the tens of thousands who lost their jobs in the state. Congress wisely offered extended benefits to the unemployed, but in Wisconsin people tried for weeks and even months just to get someone to pick up the phone, much less process their claims. It has been a national embarrassment. Finally, after nearly a year, the Wisconsin Legislature has approved a plan to fix the system and Governor Evers has signed that bill into law. It is long overdue. Too many people who were promised help they badly needed couldn’t get that help because of Wisconsin’s terrible system of trying to process claims. They finally stepped on the pedal, and added staff and extended shifts to try to reduce the unemployment backlog, but that cost taxpayers about $22 million. Still, more than 70,000 unemployment claims in the state remain under review. It should not have taken a year for our lawmakers to address this issue. They used too much of that time to blame the other side for what was wrong and how to fix it. Even though lawmakers approved the bill to upgrade, the legislature failed to include the $80 million needed to fund it. And Evers admits this bill won’t be enough to solve the problem. Wisconsin bungled this from the beginning, and even today still can’t quite get it right.

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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