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Leave it to Evers: Tony gives bruised rural WI a blue ribbon

Empower Wisconsin | June 11, 2020

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide lockdowns beat the hell out of Wisconsin’s economy, particularly the poorer rural areas.

Now, fresh from his fight to extend his disastrous stay-at-home orders, Task Force Tony is pushing another panel to look at the problems facing rural Wisconsin.

Evers’ this week announced the members of his Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Wisconsin’s rural communities were facing challenges to their very survival,” the Democrat said in a press release. “It is more important than ever to listen to the concerns of our rural residents and support them in finding solutions.”

Now he wants to listen to rural Wisconsin? He certainly wasn’t listening when local leaders told him that his administration’s economy-killing public health orders were strangling businesses and small towns. He wasn’t listening to farmers hit hard by the pandemic and Evers’ shuttering of markets, farmers on the edge  of having to euthanize their animals because they could no longer afford to feed them.

As Empower Wisconsin has reported, Wisconsin’s poorest counties, many of them rural, have suffered the most pronounced economic impacts, while having the least amount of COVID-19 cases, according to UW-Madison economist Noah Williams. These counties are more dependent on tourism and hospitality jobs. Williams noted Menominee County, with a poverty rate of 26 percent, posted 30 percent unemployment.

Leisure and hospitality businesses bled jobs, with Evers’ orders demanding bars and restaurants and others close in-store service. An estimated 57 percent of all jobs in the sector were lost in April, 10 percentage points higher than leisure and hospitality positions shed nationally, Williams, director of the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE), reported.

Now Evers comes riding into town with another committee to save rural Wisconsin.

Give this governor a blue ribbon for being obtuse.

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