Gov. Evers wants special session on unemployment, $5 million computer fix

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p dir=”ltr”>The governor spent time during Tuesday’s State of the State speech focusing on the problems at the Department of Workforce Development. 

(The Center Square) – To say Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol are unimpressed with Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed fix for the state’s beleaguered unemployment office is putting it mildly. 

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p dir=”ltr”>Evers then pledged to fix it. 

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p dir=”ltr”>“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we saw an unprecedented influx of unemployment claims — it exceeded the number of claims even during the Great Recession. To put it in perspective, over the course of four years from 2016 through 2019, the Department of Workforce Development handled 7.2 million claims. Well, since March, the DWD received 8.8 million claims alone — 1.6 million more claims than the four previous years combined,” Evers told lawmakers during his speech. “Previous administrations and more than a decades’ worth of legislators have known this system was outdated and couldn’t handle an economic crisis like the one this pandemic presented, and they never took the time to fix it.”

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p dir=”ltr”>On Wednesday, Evers officially called for a special session of the legislature for next Tuesday. He wants Wisconsin lawmakers to spend $5 million to begin the process to modernize DWD’s computer system. 

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p dir=”ltr”>“Replacing this system will take years — that’s why it should’ve been done sooner, but it’s also why we now have not another moment to waste. No politics, no posturing, send me the bill and let’s just get it done,” the governor added. 

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p dir=”ltr”>“This is unbelievable,” Wanggaard said. “Ten months of saying the system is broken, hundreds of thousands of people waiting months to receive benefits and his ‘plan’ to fix the unemployment fiasco is $5 million to start, and a mandate on employers to file online. We waited 10 months for this? Good grief.”

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p dir=”ltr”>Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, on Wednesday said Gov. Evers could have asked for $5 million for new computers months ago. 

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p dir=”ltr”>Gov. Evers has called several special sessions since last spring, but the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate have ignored them all. The governor hopes that doesn’t happen again. There’s no word from legislative leaders on their plans for the governor’s order. 

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p dir=”ltr”>Wanggaard said he supports updating DWD’s computer system, but wants more. 

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By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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