Boots & Sabers

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Category: Politics – Wisconsin

What to do with a surplus?

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s the gist:

As Democrats salivate over spending a projected tax surplus, the families paying for that surplus will also be having their budgets squeezed by raging inflation. It is a budgetary pincer that will squeeze the middle class at a time when the middle class is just recovering from a pandemic.

 

The decisions for the Legislature should be a very simple one. If the state collects more taxes than it planned to, then give it back to the people who paid it. They should not redistribute it to people who did not pay the taxes and they should not spend it on things that make politicians feel good about themselves.

 

Just give it back. It’s not yours.

GOP Perpetuates Government Land Grab

This program should have been ended years ago. We are allowing our government to borrow money to buy land to take it off the tax rolls to increase the tax burden on the taxpayers funding the purchases. It’s a boondoggle that riddled with the opportunity for graft and corruption. The government already owns too much land.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee on Thursday voted to extend Wisconsin‘s contentious land stewardship program for four years, rather than another decade as Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wanted.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Dane County School Closings

Huzzah, huzzah. Hopefully the overreaches of government during the pandemic will be pushed back by the courts and at the ballot box.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday sided with private school parents and students in striking down a Dane County order from last August that sought to close all schools to most students to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The 4-3 decision — with all four of the court’s conservatives in the majority — comes with the school year essentially over and as rising vaccination rates appear to have virus in abeyance. The court in September had also placed a temporary hold on the order, meaning religious schools were free to conduct in-person classes for almost the entire 2020-21 school year, as many did.

But the court’s decision could resonate if there’s a resurgence of a virus variant or a completely new pandemic in the future.

The order by Public Health Madison and Dane County barred schools from offering in-person instruction for grades 3 through 12 until the county met certain benchmarks showing the coronavirus is better contained. In effect, it would have applied almost exclusively to private schools because public schools in Dane County had already decided to start the year online for almost all students in almost every grade.

Spending a Windfall

Wow. Look at how this news story frames the issue:

It’s a windfall that sets up the legislature and governor for any number of spending options, in a landscape where both sides have rarely come to agreement in terms of spending.

So the “problem” is that the politicians may disagree on how to “spend” their “windfall.” That is billions of dollars that was taken from Wisconsinites. It is not a “windfall.” It is over-taxation. The only debate should be about which taxes to cut to bring tax collections in line with the minimum amount the government needs to operate.

Republicans increase school spending again

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

The Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is continuing to draft the state budget. Last week they took up the topic of K-12 school funding. Despite the Republican majority voting to increase spending by $128 million, Governor Tony Evers labeled the increase “paltry” and “an insult” and threatened to veto the entire budget because of it in the same week that he announced his intent to seek re-election.

 

Every budget season we hear the same ridiculous rhetoric about how Republicans are cutting education and hurting kids despite unending budget increases. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards went so far as to say that proposed budget “will be devastating” to students. While such inflammatory adjectives are exciting for politicos, the facts do not support the hysteria.

 

According to data from the Department of Public Instruction and the published state budget documents, the proposed spending on K-12 education for the 2022-2023 school year is $1.4 billion more than it was in the 2015-2016 school year when Republicans controlled the legislative and executive branches. That is an increase of 26% over just four budgets.

 

On a per-pupil basis, the increases are even more stark. For years there has been a steady decline in student enrollment driven by demographic trends. In the 2015-2016 school year there were 867,137 public school students in Wisconsin. This year, there are 826,935 public school students. That is a decline of over 40,000 public school students, but taxpayer spending continues to climb. On a per-student basis, state funding of K-12 education has increased by 32% since the 2015-2016 school year.

 

Throughout that entire period where state taxpayer spending on K-12 education increased by 26% as enrollment was dropping, Republicans controlled both houses of the state Legislature. For the first two budgets, Wisconsin also had a Republican governor. The fact is that Republicans have lavished the taxpayers’ money on the government education at every opportunity. Even though Democrats always want to spend more, the Republicans have been anything but stingy with education funding.

 

Government schools are swimming in even more billions of taxpayer dollars this year as they collect multiple rounds of COVID19 relief money spewing out of Washington. Democrats are attempting to claim that Republicans are endangering federal money by not committing more state taxpayer money. They claimed the same thing about federal funds for unemployment payments. Just like the unemployment funding, the federal dollars will flood our schools whether we want it or not. Democrats in Washington and Madison are not going to disappoint one of their strongest constituencies – government teachers.

 

While spending continues to rise with no consideration for the decline in enrollment, what are taxpayers really getting for their largesse? Even before the pandemic, student performance from our government schools was mediocre and had been steadily eroding for years. The curriculum was being infused with left-wing ideology and the building spree was unending.

 

But the pandemic really demonstrated how little some of our government schools care for the students and their obligations to the public. When the pandemic first emerged, schools rightfully closed as everyone worked to understand the virus. Within months, however, it became clear that COVID-19 posed almost no risk at all for children. This fact became even clearer when many private schools, and a few government schools, opened their doors to educate kids again as early as last spring. Even now, after over 600,000 COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, only three people under 19 years old have died with COVID-19.

 

We learned how the virus spreads and who is at most risk, yet far too many government schools remained closed to in-person education while the education and mental health of children deteriorated. Even now, some government schools do not plan to fully open until the next school year and then plan to perpetuate fear with useless and outdated mitigation measures.

 

When parents and communities needed their government schools the most, far too many of them abandoned their duty. For that, both state and federal taxpayers are rewarding them with billions of additional dollars. It is well past time to rethink our support for government institutions that are failing to meet their duty to the public. To rephrase the oft-quoted Robert Goodloe Harper, “billions for education, but not one cent for tribute.”

Wisconsin Collects Taxes at Record Levels

There is absolutely no shortage of money in Madison. It’s time to scale back taxes to what government actually needs to function instead of just finding reasons to spend the “extra.” That isn’t a windfall for government. It is an excess of taxation.

The increase in general fund tax collections in 2021, particularly in the months of April and May, is unprecedented. Based upon the strength of collections and the vastly improved economic forecasts for the remainder of this year and the next two years, our analysis indicates that for the three-year period, aggregate general fund tax collections will be $4,427.4 million above those of the previous estimates ($1,447.9 million in 2020-21, $1,543.7 million in 2021-22, and $1,435.8 million in 2022-23).

2020-21 General Fund Condition Statement

Prior to this analysis, it was projected that the gross balance in the general fund at the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year would be $1,794.2 million. It is now estimated that the balance will be $2,610.3 million, an increase of $816.1 million. The 2020-21 general fund condition statement is shown in Table 1.

Republicans increase school spending again

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

According to data from the Department of Public Instruction and the published state budget documents, the proposed spending on K-12 education for the 2022-2023 school year is $1.4 billion more than it was in the 2015-2016 school year when Republicans controlled the legislative and executive branches. That is an increase of 26% over just four budgets.

 

On a per-pupil basis, the increases are even more stark. For years there has been a steady decline in student enrollment driven by demographic trends. In the 2015-2016 school year there were 867,137 public school students in Wisconsin. This year, there are 826,935 public school students. That is a decline of over 40,000 public school students, but taxpayer spending continues to climb. On a per-student basis, state funding of K-12 education has increased by 32% since the 2015-2016 school year.

 

Throughout that entire period where state taxpayer spending on K-12 education increased by 26% as enrollment was dropping, Republicans controlled both houses of the state Legislature. For the first two budgets, Wisconsin also had a Republican governor. The fact is that Republicans have lavished the taxpayers’ money on the government education at every opportunity. Even though Democrats always want to spend more, the Republicans have been anything but stingy with education funding.

“Endangering” Federal Money

This is not a problem.

A Republican lawmaker on the Legislature’s powerful budget-writing committee said the state would stay in compliance with federal guidelines, so as not to miss out on $1.5 billion in federal matching funds for education.

First, this is a good reminder that nothing is ever “free.” The federal money has demands that state taxpayers increase spending because it isn’t about COVID-19 relief. It is about increasing spending on a loyal Democratic constituency – government teachers.

Second, there is no way that the federal government doesn’t grant a waiver if necessary. Here’s how this plays out…

Step 1: Evers and Democrats beat up Republicans for a few weeks to get more K-12 spending in the budget.

Step 3: Irrespective of whether Republicans in the legislature increase spending or not, Evers calls Washington to make sure the money will flow.

Step 4: Biden’s administration sends money.

Step 5: Evers takes credit for “saving” billions in federal money and uses it as an “achievement” for his reelection campaign.

Republicans should hold their ground. There is no upside – politically or educationally – to spending more money on government schools.

Speaker Vos Suggests That Wisconsin Enforce Job Search Requirements for Unemployment

If you don’t show up for a scheduled interview, can it really be said that you are “looking for work?” No, it can’t. And no, the taxpayers should not be paying for people who refuse to make even the most minimal effort to be gainfully employed.

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin should get tougher on unemployed people who apply for jobs to meet work search requirements but then skip out on the interview, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Wednesday.

 

[…]

 

Vos, the owner of a food packaging business, said during the pandemic that he was fearful he would go bankrupt. Now Vos said he’s also battling worker shortage problems and is offering gift cards to employees who show up to work on time five days a week.

 

Vos, in a back and forth with a business owner who described job applicants skipping out on interviews, questioned whether Wisconsin should do more to combat that.

 

“It seems like in Wisconsin we don’t do a very good job to report a no-show for an interview and doing something about it,” Vos said.

Republican legislative leaders, along with the state chamber of commerce, trade groups and local economic development groups, are advocating for the state Legislature to repeal a $300 unemployment supplement and other enhancement programs enacted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Yes, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is Still Weaponized for the Left

This story really illustrates the politicization of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Months after the state resolved a long-running dispute over its voter list, Wisconsin’s Elections Commission is poised to send out a routine mailer that could remove tens of thousands of inactive voters from its rolls.

 

The mailer — which is a postcard sent out every two years — will be delivered to more than 187,000 people who haven’t voted since November of 2016, a four-year span that covers more than a dozen elections.

 

In a state like Wisconsin, where the past two presidential races have been decided by around 20,000 votes out of more than 3 million cast, changes to the voting list can make national news.

 

That’s not the case with this latest mailer, which — at least so far — is flying under the radar.

 

“Generally, people who get this are people who have moved or just aren’t interested in voting anymore,” said Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesperson Reid Magney. “But we occasionally do get several thousand people out of this who will let us know, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m still here … So keep me on the list.'”

 

The list in question is different than the one that sparked a year-and-a-half legal fight that was resolved in April by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

 

[…]

 

The state is scheduled to send the postcards on June 15. People who receive the postcards who want to remain registered should return them to the state.

 

“And if they don’t respond, then they are moved from the active to the inactive list, which means that they would have to reregister if they wanted to vote,” Magney said.

Clerks will have until July 15 to update their voter lists based on who responds. The Elections Commission will then remove those voters from the state’s registration list on July 31.

This is a perfectly normal and acceptable process to maintain the integrity and cleanliness of our voter rolls. After all, if the state has an indication that someone might have moved out state or died, then why wouldn’t we want to remove them from the rolls to avoid fraud or mistakes? And if they are removed in error, Wisconsin allows people to register at the polls. It’s a tiny hassle, but negligible when balanced against the benefit of cleaning up the rolls.

Furthermore, six weeks from mailing to purge is a reasonable amount of time for people to respond and for clerks to update the rolls. All. Perfectly. Acceptable.

Yet… in 2019 and 2020 this was a major issue. Liberals and the Elections Commission claimed that this normal sanitization of our electoral process was unjust and that there wasn’t possible enough time for the clerks to make changes before the election. It went to court. People spewed spittle on the interwebs about the impropriety of the process. In the end, the names were never removed from the rolls prior to election day.

What changed?

Simple. In 2020, the Democrats were expecting heavy turnout on their side and the liberals on the Elections Commission wanted to clear the decks for every possible attempt at fraud. In 2022, the Republicans are expecting a strong turnout and the liberal on the Elections Commission are willing to return to normal processes.

The WEC should complete this routing sanitization of the voter rolls. And it never should have been an issue in 2019/2020. The fact that it was tells us everything we need to know about the people who run that commission.

UW Regents Swing to Left

Elections have consequences. But as the legislature looks to unleash their tuition authority, this decision may have an immediate impact on thousands of Wisconsin students.

Attention this week turns to the UW Board of Regents, which finds itself at an interesting inflection point in the political power struggle over control of the University of Wisconsin System with the board holding its first contested election in nearly a decade.

Appointees of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker led the 18-member board for the past six years, but the political balance tipped this month when Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced his newest regent picks. The board now includes nine Evers appointees, seven Walker appointees, the state superintendent and the Wisconsin Technical College System board president.

After the story has quote after quote of liberals bemoaning the influence of politics in the Regents, we get this little reminder:

There’s always been an element of political influence looming over the Regents by the very nature of their appointment and confirmation process.

In one of the most brazen examples, the Democratic-controlled Senate in the early 2000’s bottled up then-Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson’s regent nominations for so long that, after he left to become secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services, the picks remained held up for the entirety of his successor’s two-year tenure. When Doyle was elected, he withdrew the Republican appointees and then replaced them with his own.

 

Time for virtual state government

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

While there is a lot to balance to build a successful virtual workforce, it is not an untrodden path. State government should rapidly move more jobs to virtual for the benefits it offers the state. As the Vision 2030 report points out, a more virtual workforce will allow the state to reduce the number and size of offices throughout the state, thus reducing the cost of operating state government.

 

More importantly than cost, more virtual state government jobs will diffuse the Madison-centric nature of state government. By making state jobs available to people throughout the state, it allows the state to attract more diverse and more qualified employees than just the people who are within commuting distance of a Madison office. The diversity of state employees will enable state government to be more in tune with more state residents.

 

Finally, by making as many state government jobs virtual as possible and recruiting employees throughout Wisconsin, it is an opportunity for state taxpayers to help support communities with family-supporting jobs. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a state government employee is $58,009 including the substantial benefits and retirement package also available to state employees. There are small cities, towns, and villages all over Wisconsin where that level of compensation would be well above the local average and would have a positive impact in the local economy.

 

Giant state government buildings scattered throughout Madison to house the state government workforce is an antiquated way of working. State government must accelerate the move to embracing modern ways of working for the benefit of the state and the employees.

Legislature Moves to Ends UW Tuition Freeze

Interesting… so the Democrats all voted to keep tuition frozen at UW.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Legislature’s Republican-led budget committee voted Thursday to end a University of Wisconsin tuition freeze that has been in place for eight years and has long been a GOP priority that had bipartisan support.

 

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed, and the university supported, extending the tuition freeze for another two years, along with spending $192 million more on the UW System.

 

But the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee went in a different direction Thursday, voting to end the tuition freeze and adding just $8.25 million in state funding for UW, $9.5 million for technical colleges and $5 million for a nurse education program for students at both private and public colleges and universities in the state.

All 11 Republicans voted to end the freeze, while all four Democrats voted to keep it.

I’m dubious, but I see what they are doing. The legislature is increasing taxpayer funding to UW, but slowly enough that it is continuing the trend of reducing the percentage of taxpayer support in the UW budget. At the same time, they are lifting the tuition freeze to allow them to get more funding that way. The market will regulate increases, in theory, but the higher education market is warped by easy borrowed money from the government.

Still, if I am to choose between the taxpayers or the tuition payers supporting UW spending, I’d rather it be the tuition payers.

Legislature Considers Flat Funding for K-12

This makes complete sense.

MADISON – The president of the Wisconsin Senate doesn’t want to increase general aid for schools in the next two years because they have received billions of dollars in federal aid since 2020.

 

“I think we’re good for right now,” Senate President Chris Kapenga said in an interview Tuesday. “My gut is there’s not going to be a big push in the caucus to increase funding.”

 

[…]

 

Wisconsin schools are receiving an extra $2.6 billion in federal aid because of the pandemic. Congress approved that funding in a series of bills starting a year ago.

 

That funding comes on top of $12.6 billion that Wisconsin schools received this school year through state aid, federal aid, property taxes and other sources, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

 

According to a 2020 Wisconsin Policy Forum report, Wisconsin lags the nation in K-12 spending increases. Between 2013 and 2018, Wisconsin’s spending increased by 11%, while nationwide the increase was close to 18%.

 

Kapenga said the additional federal aid means the Legislature doesn’t need to allocate extra state money in the next two years for general aid.

School districts are flush with federal cash right now. Why should the state taxpayers spend even more on them?

I would go further and advocate that we reduce spending on K-12 education for the simple fact that we have fewer students to educate. Why do we continue to increase spending when there are fewer and fewer kids? I understand that it isn’t a direct linear equation, but at some point, we need to spend less.

In 2000, Wisconsin’s government school enrollment was 877,713 students; 871,550 in 2010; 829,935 in 2020. If the schools are educating 41,615 fewer kids than they were just ten years ago, why aren’t costs going down? That’s like six West Bend School Districts that we don’t need anymore. The kids aren’t there.

Keeping spending flat is generous. We should be reducing it.

Growing Hemp in the Domes

Interesting proposal.

The county has issued a request for proposal for a private entity to lease one of the Domes’ greenhouses to propagate hemp clones for market consumption. The RFP is live until June 7.

 

The growing operation is one of several ideas that has emerged in recent years to revitalize or repurpose the Domes.

 

County supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, who first presented the idea of growing hemp in the Domes’ greenhouses in 2018, has previously touted a report indicating the operation could bring in as much as $1.6 million annually for the county parks.

I don’t have a problem with hemp, but is this really the role of government and a good use for the Domes? I assume that if there is an industrial hemp operation going on, then they would not be open to the public for educational purposes. If they will be open, then it’s a pretty boring field trip. So what’s the purpose? It it to have a revenue-generating commercial interest to fund domes that the public can no longer use? What is he public interest in that? I expect that “as much as” $1.6 million per year is still not enough to cover the maintenance and operations for the Domes themselves, so there wouldn’t even be surplus to use on other county expenses.

The Domes are cool and all, but perhaps it is time to let them go. The county has been trying for 20 years to find a way to update and maintain them and the public clearly isn’t that interested. Move on and spend the money on something the county’s residents do want

Gavel In, Gavel Out

The legislature gave Evers’ political stunt the respect it deserved. Whether you agree with expanding Medicaid or not (I don’t), there is no reason for a special session. The legislature is actually in session and could take this up in normal order if they wanted. The only reason Evers called a special session, which he knew would be ended quickly without action, was to get this as a new story. Pure politics. Meanwhile, Evers still won’t engage with Republicans to discuss the budget.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature convened then immediately ended a special session called by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to expand Medicaid.

 

The move dashes the state’s chances for claiming $1 billion in federal funding to expand Medicaid that was included in the coronavirus stimulus bill.

 

The Senate was in session for less than 10 seconds and Assembly was done in under 40 seconds. There was no debate in either chamber.

Drawing political lines best left to Legislature

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

There is something perverse about trying to supplant the people’s elected representatives with an unelected commission. First, the notion that one could assemble a group of people who could make decisions without bias or predisposition is a complete fantasy. Our nation’s founders fully recognized that every person is imperfect and incapable of governing without falling victim, even if only occasionally, to the intrinsic weaknesses of the human condition. That is why they created a system of government where power was constantly diffused, checked, and balanced. Evers’ claim to have gathered an assemblage of noble nonpartisans is either painfully naïve or a prevarication.

 

Second, the entire purpose of representative government is for citizens to elect representatives to make difficult public policy decisions. These decisions often require the balance of competing interests, spending taxpayer money, protecting individual liberties, predicting policy consequences, and dozens of other factors. We have created an entire system for making laws that is designed to study, debate, and decide on important issues. The push to abandon our system of representative government and replace it with an unelected cabal of conceited commissars is un-American.

Work Search Requirements Reinstated in Wisconsin

Excellent. It’s a step in the right direction.

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Wisconsin residents receiving unemployment insurance must now fulfill work search requirements that were temporarily suspended because of the economic effects of the pandemic.

 

A GOP-controlled legislative committee voted on May 19 to reinstate the requirements. The aim is to help an ongoing labor shortage in the state as it recovers from the pandemic.

 

“I would argue that that is why it is so imperative to get people out looking for work,” Sen. Steve Nass (R – Whitewater) said on May 19 about putting the requirements back in place.

It wasn’t that along ago that this would not have been controversial. We have 3.8% unemployment and it is not unreasonable to expect people who are being supported by the taxpayers in time of trouble to, at the very least, make an effort to get off the dole.

And while I feel sympathy for this lady, the answer is “yes.” The social bargain is not for taxpayers to support you until you find a job that you like or that is in your desired field. The social bargain is that the taxpayers will give you support until you find work – any kind of work – to support yourself. That may mean getting a job that you don’t like as you continue to look for the job you want.

Luz Sosa is an economist at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Prior to the pandemic, she worked full-time, but the effects of COVID-19 on the college forced her to go part-time. She has since been on partial unemployment. With the work search requirements, she is finding limited options to fulfill them as higher education employment has slowed and has yet to recover fully. Sosa believes this is a challenge for many others.

 

“How would that impact other people in other industries where there are no jobs in their industry?” Sosa told CBS 58 in an interview. “Are we all supposed to switch jobs, careers or make a life change just because of these work searches?”

Wisconsin is suffering an employment crisis

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week.

Last week I strode into a Cousins sub shop intent upon enjoying a delicious Philly steak sub and a side of cheese curds. Behind the counter was an extremely friendly, if harried, man and woman working like a whirlwind filling orders. I was fourth in line and there were seven other people in the store waiting for their food.

 

As the man called each number and gave a patron their order with a friendly smile, he repeated the same message: “If you know of anyone who is looking for work, please let them know that we are hiring.” As I ordered, he apologized for the long wait and explained that they just could not find people willing to work. They recently held a job fair to which a single person showed up. A fellow customer piped up and said that he ran a shop and was having the same problem. The owners were working 16 hours a day just to keep up.

 

While we all waited for our orders, all the customers were friendly and patient. The conversation turned to the omnipresence of “help wanted” signs and the impact on businesses and their customers all over town. Somebody offered that “it pays more to sit at home and do nothing than to get a job” to universal nods of agreement.

 

After finishing my sub, I turned to wave a thanks on my way out and was reminded to, “tell everyone you know that we are hiring!” It was a moment in time in a simple Wisconsin sub shop, but it is a scene that is being repeated all over the state. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a record 44% of small businesses report having open jobs that they can not fill. This is double the 48-year average and the third consecutive month reporting a record high.

 

Wisconsin’s businesses are trying to bounce back, but unemployment policies implemented during the early days of the pandemic are now impeding their recovery. It is time to end those policies.

 

There are two primary policy culprits that need to be rescinded immediately. The first policy is that the federal government is currently funding an enhancement of $300 per week of unemployment payments. This results in unemployed Wisconsinites receiving as much as $670 per week, or the equivalent of $16.75 per hour, as Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce noted in a recent letter to Governor Evers. It is much more than that, however. That is $16.75 per hour without the hassle of commuting to work, buying work clothes, paying taxes, shaving, and actually working. $16.75 an hour for doing nothing is worth more than working for $20 per hour.

 

The second policy is that Gov. Tony Evers has waived the requirement that people receiving unemployment seek work. Recipients are not required to prove to anyone that they are looking for a job. Without the requirement to seek employment, some people receiving unemployment benefits are content to just wait until the gravy train ends.

 

Both policies result in a sizable number of Wisconsinites making the very rational and pragmatic decision to remain on unemployment unless they can find a job that pays substantially more than what they are already receiving for not working. For people who lack the job skills or work ethic to command a higher wage, the unemployment system has become a very comfortable hammock.

The numbers illustrate the problem. An economy is enjoying full employment when anyone who wants a job can have one. Most economists agree that an unemployment rate below 4% or 5% indicates than an economy is in a state of full employment. In prepandemic April of 2019, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 3.2%. In April of 2021, the unemployment rate is 3.8%. Wisconsin’s economy has returned to full employment.

 

Yet in April of 2019, there were about 21,000 people receiving unemployment benefits. In April of 2021, there are about 92,000 people receiving unemployment benefits. In an economic state of full employment, Wisconsin has about 70,000 people receiving unemployment payments who would not have been just two years ago. They are being paid to not work.

 

Seventeen states have already announced that they will be ending the $300-per-week federal unemployment enhancements. The enhancements are doing more harm than good. Wisconsin should immediately follow suit and end federal benefits.

 

The suspension of the requirement that people receiving unemployment payments show proof that they are seeking work should also be ended. It is not unreasonable to require that people receiving unemployment benefits actively look for gainful employment. There are plenty of available jobs.

 

There is no longer a crisis of unemployment in the state. There is a crisis of employment. Wisconsin must rescind emergency rules and reinstate normal order for the unemployment system. Returning to normal is no longer a matter for the virus anymore. It is simply a policy choice.

 

Evers is Purposefully Holding Back Wisconsin Economy

So the man who has been in a government job for his entire life knows better than the thousands of business owners who are asking for this? Riiiight… Notice how he doesn’t offer an explanation. Just… “I don’t buy it.” He is either a blithering idiot or actively trying to hurt Wisconsin’s economy. I’m not ruling out either option.

During a news conference in Middleton, Evers said he hasn’t seen the specific bill announced Tuesday by Republican leaders, but said he has concerns about the proposal to strike enhanced benefits during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Evers also pushed back against comments by Republicans lawmakers and dozens of business organizations that those increased benefits have created a disincentive to work and exacerbate workforce shortage issues.

“I don’t buy it,” Evers said. “We’re seeking a solution that this is not the answer to.”

“I would be less than honest if I didn’t say I am strongly considering vetoing it, but I haven’t decided,” the Democratic governor added.

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