Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week.
A few weeks ago, Governor Tony Evers held back Wisconsin’s economic recovery by vetoing a bill that would have ended the federal enhancement for unemployment benefits early. Last week, Governor Evers compounded his putrid decision by launching another wasteful donothing economic development government program with the taxpayers’ money.
The data coming out of other states continues to show the foolishness of Evers’ veto of the bill to end enhanced unemployment benefits early. The principle is very simple. If you want people to do more of something, then pay them more to do it. In this case, the federal government, in a moment of misguided altruism, is sending money to states to pay people more money to stay out of the workforce.
The economy is groaning out of the government-enforced recession in fits and spurts with some sectors roaring and others continuing to struggle. One of the most pressing problems in many sectors is that employers throughout the country are struggling to find workers to fill their open jobs. With an unemployment rate of 3.9% and a labor participation rate of 66.3%, most of Wisconsin’s employers are having the same problem.
For the states that ended enhanced unemployment payments in early June, they saw a 33% decline in new jobless claims compared with 4% in states that are still paying people more to not work, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed by the Daily Caller News Foundation. Those states that withdrew in late June saw a decline of 12%. Those that withdrew in July saw a decline of 10%. Every week counts when it comes to economic recovery. Even better, the labor participation rate in those states that withdrew in June increased by 0.25%. People are getting back to work faster in those states and more people are reentering the workforce. Evers’ decision to keep the enhanced federal unemployment payments through September will keep Wisconsin’s economy dragging behind other states.
As a tacit acknowledgment of his damaging veto, Evers announced last week that he would spend $130 million in federal COVID relief funds for workforce development to help with the worker shortage.
Of those funds, $100 million will be spent on a “workforce innovation grant program to encourage regions and communities to develop leading-edge, long-term solutions to the workforce challenges the state faces.” In other words, a bunch of unelected government bureaucrats are going to hand out your money to groups and businesses that can meet whatever version of “solutions” meets the liberal definition of “leading-edge.” Expect that money to go to things like green energy and education initiatives that are run by people who give money to Democrats.
$20 million of your money will go to subsidize “employment and skills training opportunities with local employers.” The remaining $10 million will for to “provide workforce career coaches.” This money will be used to pay people to teach unemployed people how to work as if it is the responsibility of the taxpayers to pay to train people to work.
There are already dozens of programs like this in every community in Wisconsin, but Evers seems to think that one more will do the trick. The fact that he is spending tens of millions of dollars that will be doled out at his administration’s discretion is a convenient political advantage the year before he seeks reelection.
With all of this spending, however, Evers admitted that the impact will not be felt any time soon – if ever. Speaking to reporters in Green Bay last week, he said that the initiatives “will be a fall enterprise.” While Wisconsin’s employers are struggling right now, Evers jumps to the rescue with a plan that will not even begin until the trees take on their autumnal hues.
In these two decisions we see the liberal mind of Tony Evers at work. Faced with a worker shortage that is retarding Wisconsin’s economic recovery and causing irreparable damage to many Wisconsin businesses, he vetoes the partial solution that would have had immediate effect and saved taxpayer money in favor of dumping $130 million of taxpayer money into the pockets of political allies for a solution that might begin to help sometime next year. In Evers’ calculation, spending taxpayer money to purchase political favor is more important than solving the state’s problems.