Legislative Republicans Propose Stronger Workforce Initiative

Wisconsin Republicans have introduced a package of bills that would scale back safety net programs like unemployment insurance and Medicaid, arguing the government is to blame for the state’s workforce shortage.

“The more people that are on these programs who don’t truly need them, the more the programs are stressed, and the less funding is available to help the truly needy,” said Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, at a Madison press conference Tuesday introducing the package.

The measures introduced by Republicans on Tuesday include:

  • A plan to “index” Wiscosin’s unemployment insurance benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. Right now, people can receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. This plan would allow for the full 26 weeks only when the state’s unemployment rate is greater than 9 percent. When the unemployment rate is less than or equal to 3.5 percent, benefits would be cut off after 14 weeks.
  • A proposal that would cut off Medicaid, or BadgerCare, to adults without kids if they turn down an offer to work more, or turn down an increase in pay. Some BadgerCare recipients are reluctant to increase their hours out of fear they’ll lose their current health plan and be unable to afford similar health insurance on the private market.
  • New penalties for unemployment insurance recipients who “ghost” employers, or don’t show up to a scheduled job interview.
  • work requirement for able-bodied adults without kids who are seeking FoodShare benefits.
  • measure that would ban the state Department of Health Services from automatically renewing eligibility for medical assistance benefits.
  • Proposals that would rebrand Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance program as “reemployment assistance” and create new penalties for unemployment insurance fraud.

Evers spokesperson Britt Cudaback did not say whether the governor would veto the plans, but in a written statement, she highlighted Evers’ ongoing effort to use federal recovery funds to address the state’s workforce issues.