Wisconsin Republicans presented a package of legislation to tighten the eligibility for unemployment benefits. The purpose of the bill is to cater the growing challenge of labor shortage across the state.

Labor Shortage Challenge

The Republican lawmakers introduced the bill on Tuesday and it will restrict the state’s unemployment benefits. The bill will shorten the period of claiming the unemployment benefits. In addition, they have included the possibility of cancelling the benefits if the recipient fails declines or skip a job interview. The lawmakers are seeking to introduce an audit mandate to monitor recipient’s works efforts search.

“We have such an immense number of jobs available,” Senate President Chris Kapenga said at a news conference to introduce the bills. “The people who are on benefits are not in the workforce. We want to reduce that, so we don’t have dependency on government. No person has ever become prosperous and independent on a welfare check.”

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    Wisconsin had an unemployment rate of 3% during November last year. This was according to data available from the state Department of Workforce Development. The agency estimated about 97% of the state’s 3,107,800-person workforce was employed that month.

    Key Elements of Proposed Bill

    The proposed legislation will:

    • Reinstate a three-month limit on food stamp eligibility if recipients don’t comply with work requirements.
    • Require the state Department of Workforce Development to randomly audit at least 50% of all work search actions unemployment benefit recipients report to the agency.
    • Direct DWD to expand hours at its call center to help people apply for unemployment benefits.
    • In addition, it require state auditors to audit DWD’s attempts to reduce unemployment benefit fraud.

    On the other hand, Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Greta Neubauer countered in a statement that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is low. Therefore, the current bill is proposed to undermine unemployment benefits that families need to survive rather than solving the labor shortage crisis. However, The Republicans are expecting to pass the legislation by the end of next month. They have a majority in both chambers of the state legislature.

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