(The Center Square) – Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol say if the governor is going to spend $130 million to help get people back to work, there is no longer a need to pay people in the state an extra $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits.
Gov. Tony Evers announced a plan to spend $130 million of the state’s $2.4 billion in coronavirus stimulus money on workforce initiatives.
“We’ve heard from unemployed workers, business, and community leaders across the state about the workforce challenges they face, and recognize there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to meeting these needs,” Evers said in a statement. “These programs will allow us to invest in regional solutions, help businesses find workers, and provide support to our friends and neighbors who are getting back on their feet.”
The governor’s plan would spend:
- $100 million on a Workforce Innovation grant program designed to “encourage regions and communities to develop leading-edge, long-term solutions” to Wisconsin’s workforce challenges.
- $20 million toward the Worker Advancement Initiative. The idea is to offer subsidized employment and skills training opportunities to people on unemployment.
- $10 million for a Worker Connection Program to provide workforce career coaches to connect individuals attempting to re-enter the workforce post-pandemic.
Republicans at the Capitol say the governor’s proposals mean Wisconsin can, and should, withdraw from the enhanced federal unemployment program right away.
“With these initiatives and programs, the bonus federal unemployment payment of $300 a week needs to end!,” the Assembly’s Republican caucus tweeted Wednesday.
The governor’s announcement came the same day a new report explained that ending the extra unemployment benefits could fill nearly 2 million jobs by the end of the year.
State Rep. Rick Gundrum, R-Slinger, was one of several Republican lawmakers on Wednesday who shared the new report on Twitter.
“A poll revealed that unemployment benefits prevented 13% of recipients from accepting jobs,” Gundrum tweeted. “Governor Evers shouldn’t have vetoed the legislature’s bill to end the enhanced federal unemployment benefits.”
Gov. Evers has refused to withdraw Wisconsin from the enhanced federal program, going as far as to veto the legislation Gundrum mentioned, because he says he’s seen no data that indicated the extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits is keeping anyone from returning to work.