(The Center Square) – One of the men who writes Wisconsin’s budget says if Gov. Tony Evers isn’t going to fix the state’s unemployment backlog, then he will.
Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, who heads the powerful Joint Finances Committee, said he is planning to introduce legislation that would find money to fix the problems at Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development, and require the state to upgrade the technology there.
“Despite claiming to have a plan to address the backlog, little progress has actually been made,” Nygren said. “In response to Gov. Evers’ inaction, I plan to introduce legislation requiring the elimination of the backlog and upgrades to the IT system.”
Tens of thousands of people continue to wait for DWD to process their unemployment claims. Some of those people have been waiting since March.
Evers’ handpicked DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman said at the time that old computers and limited technology are to blame. Frostman has since been let go.
Nygren said Evers has had, and continues to have, the ability to send money to DWD to fix the problems. Nygren said the governor has simply chosen not to.
“For months, Gov. Evers has blamed IT systems for the unemployment backlog. He has even tried to blame Republicans for upgrades not happening,” Nygren said. “However, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently determined that the governor could initiate an upgrade to IT systems without legislative approval.”
LFB told Nygren that the governor could transfer the money by prioritizing spending at DWD.
“Gov. Evers has had this ability since the day he took office,” Nygren added. “If he believed that funding was an issue, he didn’t even request funds in their agency budget requests submitted in September."
Nygren said he intends to introduce legislation that will send money to DWD and require the agency to upgrade its technology. Lawmakers are not, however, due back at the Capitol in Madison until after the new year.