Representing Wisconsin State Assembly District 93 It is no secret these days that Wisconsin is facing a workforce shortage. As I travel throughout the 93rd Assembly District, one thing is clear as I …
Representing Wisconsin State Assembly District 93
It is no secret these days that Wisconsin is facing a workforce shortage. As I travel throughout the 93rd Assembly District, one thing is clear as I talk with business owners, restaurant workers, as well as local manufacturers, and farmers – this worker shortage is real. There are 30% more jobs listed today on jobcenterofwisconsin. com than before the pandemic started. That is why we need to take this opportunity now to reform our government programs to align them with a focus on reemployment.
This last week, I joined with colleagues from the Assembly and the Senate to introduce the Stronger Workforce Initiative to protect our safety net programs for those who need it, while reforming these programs so that they work for all of Wisconsin. As chair of the Assembly Workforce Development committee, I have authored and supported a number of these bills that will reinforce what our unemployment insurance system should be. This program needs a greater emphasis on reemployment, therefore, a number of the unemployment insurance reforms include:
•Requiring the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to match workers with suitable job offers each week.
•Assisting long-term unemployed and offer incentives to businesses to hire these individuals.
•If an individual “ghosts” an employer by skipping a job interview, DWD would be required to investigate the reason and possibly deem a claimant ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
•Requiring DWD to audit an individual’s work search actions to maintain compliance with state and federal laws.
•Ensuring that customers can get answers to UI questions by requiring additional call center hours during the week and requiring DWD to operate the call centers during the weekend at times of emergency or during a pandemic.
In addition to providing more workforce incentives, we need to make sure that we root out fraud, waste, and abuse in the UI program so that funds are available to those who lost their job through no fault of their own. Recently, the Office of the Inspector General reported that improper UI payments during the pandemic will likely exceed 10% of total benefits paid, which would equal over $700 million for Wisconsin. To stop some of this fraud in the future, this package of bills includes provisions to:
•Require stronger identity verification protocols to prevent identity theft
•Immediately start a legislative audit of the UI program focusing on DWD’s efforts to target and prevent fraud during COVID.
•Increase fraud cross matches to prevent a deceased individual or a person in prison from collecting UI.
I look forward to these bills going through the legislative process soon, so we can get these bills to the governor’s desk for his signature into law.
State Rep. Warren Petryk