Gov. Evers takes credit in signing unemployment overhaul


Gov. Tony Evers is taking credit for the new unemployment overhaul that sailed through the Wisconsin Capitol on its own.

The governor took the credit when he signed the law Thursday.

“I’m proud my special session could finally prompt the Legislature to do something on this issue,” Evers said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that the Legislature chose to cut the funding we’d asked for to commit to upgrading our system from start to finish — because I want to be clear, this bill won’t be enough to solve the problem.”

Lawmakers ignored the governor’s special session, and instead worked on a package of their own. The plan passed the State Assembly unanimously, and passed the State Senate with just three no votes.

Evers originally wanted $80 million for an update for the computers at the Department Workforce Development, Lawmakers changed that to a competitive bidding process.

Gov. Evers has blamed the outdated computers at DWD for delays over the past year that left thousands of people in Wisconsin waiting months to get their unemployment benefits. Some people are still waiting for their case to be “adjudicated.”

Republican lawmakers say Gov. Evers could have ordered many of the updates included in the new law months ago.

“For months, we’ve asked the Governor to use the resources at his disposal to get this process started, and for months, his fear of political responsibility has hurt Wisconsin families,” Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said when the legislation passed on Tuesday. “Sadly, it’s become clear that Governor Evers will never step up and be accountable to Wisconsinites, so Assembly Republicans are stepping in to do his job for him.”

The DWD overhaul also includes legal protections for businesses, non-profits, and schools across the state.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, says those protections will safeguard businesses across the state.

“Wisconsin businesses and many other organizations have spent the last year taking every possible step to keep their workers, customers and the public safe. While they did everything right to protect the health and safety of others, this legislation will now protect them from costly and predatory COVID-19 lawsuits,” WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer said Thursday.

The new law is effective immediately.

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