GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) The coronavirus pandemic put thousands of people out of work in Wisconsin, forcing most to apply for unemployment. But after months of waiting many have yet to be paid. But Republican lawmakers have a plan to help.
At the Brown County Courthouse, Assembly Republicans gather to offer a plan to help thousands waiting for an unemployment check.
“There are nearly 140,000 individuals currently awaiting adjudication on their unemployment claims,” said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette).
Out of four million weekly unemployment claims received between March and July – so far the Department of Workforce Development has paid or denied roughly 3.4 million and has yet to process over half a million more. Nygren’s message to the governor – that’s unacceptable.
“Some of these individuals have been waiting since the beginning of the state’s emergency – that’s over three months,” Nygren said.
The agency blames the delay on an old computer system and a staffing shortage. Republicans say the governor caused the problem, waiting too long to hire additional people and expand call center hours.
“They have had opportunities since April to be staffed up, address this backlog and they have not explored and taken advantage of every opportunity,” said Rep. Dave Steffen (R-Green Bay).
These Republicans are urging the governor to use a portion of the $280 million in federal money remaining that the state received under the CARES Act, to pay individuals whose claims are in limbo, and perhaps even loans to those needing emergency relief. Nygren says every $10 million used would provide four weeks in payments to 8,000 people.
“This program would provide at minimum the average weekly unemployed person a payment to address the issues they are facing,” Nygren said.
The lawmakers also asked that DWD call centers remain open seven days a week with extended hours. The agency says they have tripled their staff since mid-March.
“This current situation is unacceptable,” said Nygren.
The Department of Workforce Development says with the added staff, they are able to answer 70 percent of the phone calls they receive each day. In the last week of May they were answering just four percent of calls.