Empower Wisconsin | March 26, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The economic casualties are piling up in the wake of Gov. Tony Evers’ restrictive orders shutting down business and sending workers home.
And things are about to get much worse with Evers’ broad Emergency Order #12 going into effect.
Jobless claims in the Badger State have soared, with north of 100,000 people filing for unemployment benefits between March 15 and 23, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. There were some 21,000 claims filed on Monday alone.
That was before Evers’ latest order that requires all “non-essential” businesses to shut down and for “non-essential” workers to stay at home to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus. The order, which went into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, is tentatively scheduled to lift at 8 a.m. April 24.
“We’ll be following the rules, but nobody can afford to shut down for 30 days,” Frank Irvine, owner of a Play It Again Sports franchise in Eau Claire told the Leader-Telegram. Irvine, like so many other Badger State businesses, has been forced to cut staffing and hours.
As employers urge lawmakers to act, they worry about the details of the massive $2 trillion relief package coming out of congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the bill “a wartime level of investment into our nation.” Democrats decried the initial proposal as a “500 billion slush fund” for business. They demanded changes. What liberals meant by “changes” was that they wanted to dump a lot more money in and smack businesses where they could.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) bragged about the changes he secured to the bloated stimulus bill, but Schumer’s delay may have increased the incentive for employers to let go workers.
“On top of the government enforced lockdowns which are destroying enterprises in many jurisdictions, the federal legislative trouble began last Wednesday with the enactment of expanded sick leave and family leave rights for employees,” James Freeman wrote in a piece headlined, “Will New Crisis Legislation Repair Damage from Last Week’s Crisis Legislation?”
The problem is, while congress goes about trying to “save” the economy, provisions tucked in the package aimed at helping workers will drive employers out of business — taking good-paying jobs with them.
“The very least that politicians like Sen. Schumer should be doing at this moment is to avoid placing new compliance burdens on companies watching their revenues collapse,” Freeman wrote.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders say they can’t even begin to talk relief packages for employers and workers at home until they figure out what the federal government is doing.
“There’s a big chunk of that $2 billion bill I don’t think we should duplicate,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Wednesday at a teleconference with the press. “We need to be smart and wise. We can’t print money and we can’t borrow for operations like the federal government does. We need to be judicious about how we spend state dollars.”