Evers targets broadband, fixing unemployment system

Evers targets broadband, fixing unemployment system Photo: WDIO

SCOTT BAUER Associated Press/WDIO-TV
Updated: January 12, 2021 09:32 PM
Created: January 12, 2021 03:13 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Tony Evers in his State of the State speech is calling on the Legislature to update Wisconsin’s antiquated unemployment payment system and spend nearly $200 million to expand broadband access.

Those were both problem areas that the coronavirus pandemic laid bare last year.

"This pandemic has underscored—and in some ways, exacerbated—the digital divide that exists across our state. This pandemic has shown us firsthand that lack of access to high-speed internet continues to be a setback for kids, families, and businesses across our state," Evers said.

"The bottom line is that our unemployment system isn't designed to handle the massive numbers of modern days, which has contributed to delays in processing claims, required more time to implement new federal programs, and made it harder to get benefits out the door," Evers said. 

Evers pre-recorded the speech, which was broadcast on his YouTube and Facebook channels Tuesday while lawmakers sitting at their desks in the Senate and Assembly chambers watched.

He opened up by dedicating the speech to the more than 5,000 Wisconsinites who have lost their lives to COVID-19, and their loved ones.

Evers also reflected on all that has changed since his second State of the State address last year.

"When I delivered my last State of the State address, no one could have predicted the rest of the year would go quite like it did. What we now know about 2020 is that it was among the most unrelenting years many of us have ever experienced," Evers said. 

In his speech, Evers also announced he was calling a special session for the Legislature to fix the beleaguered unemployment system.

Delayed checks have become a political liability for Evers.

Republicans also reacted to Governor Evers' speech, and in turn, laid out what they plan to focus on over the next two years.

"We will work to help the state recover and heal from the pandemic. We will approve a balanced budget that doesn't raise your taxes, and we will continue to find ways to work together to make sure we do keep Wisconsin's motto in our minds of moving Wisconsin forward," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. 

Credits

SCOTT BAUER Associated Press/WDIO-TV

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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