Among the thousands of large and small ills visited upon our state by this group of political mercenaries included an attack on the unemployed.
They added a one-week delay before a person could receive benefits. Walker also short-staffed the agency to create a backlog and further delay benefits. They made the unemployed jump through more hoops to get any assistance, whether they were applying for the first time or had already been collecting.
As I had related in my last post, Representative Chris Sinicki told me that they have no less than 51 changes in store for unemployment insurance. Furthermore, she said that the Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they plan on ramming these changes through, regardless of what the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, the Democrats or their own constituents have to say about any of this.
Sinicki had already told us that one of the changes will be pushing back the start of unemployment back to six weeks.
Scott Walker also pointed out several changes he wants to make:
These changes, which would need to be made by lawmakers, would include requiring the unemployed to do four job applications a week instead of the current two.As noted in the article, the problem arose during the Bush/Cheney recession, which produced a horrendously large number of job losses, quickly draining the fund for the unemployment insurance. As a consequence, the state had to borrow more than a billion dollars from the federal government in order to be able to pay the bills.
"Common sense changes could improve the (unemployment) reserve fund condition, enhance the integrity of the program, and ensure taxes paid into the fund are used properly," the report reads.
At the bottom of the unemployment insurance complaints from business owners - and the Walker administration's focus - lies the financial state of the state's jobless fund. Weakened by the recession and a lack of past action to raise taxes or cut spending from the fund, the jobless reserve had to borrow from the federal government to keep paying benefits and stood $1.2 billion in the red at the beginning of 2012.
So to pay off the debt, the state already has had to restrict benefits for the jobless and raise payroll taxes on state employers.
Making it harder to get benefits would help with that process by keeping more money in the fund. But Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said he was worried about the unemployed workers who wouldn't receive that money.
"Of the few details available, we know Wisconsin families and those suffering the most from slow job creation may lose important protections in the unemployment insurance program. We can only conclude that there is cause for concern that this administration may remove other common sense protections for Wisconsin's middle-class workers," Larson said in a statement.
The Walker administration also wants to look at:
Requiring more documentation from recipients of jobless benefits to cut down on fraud
Restricting the number of reasons such as illness, travel distance or physical limitations that a person can give to refuse work and still receive jobless benefits
Narrowing the list of exceptions that allow workers to quit a job and then receive unemployment insurance. Wisconsin currently has 18 of these exemptions, such as quitting for medical reasons or moving to a new region with a spouse. According to the report, Minnesota is the state with the next highest number of exemptions with nine.
The article states that there were two ways to pay off the debt - raise taxes on the companies or cut the spending from the fund.
It goes without saying that Walker, being the corporate puppet that he is, is not about to raise taxes on companies. The is especially true since may of the high level executives and big business owners are also major campaign contributors for Walker.
But what the article doesn't point out is that there are two ways to cut spending.
The one way the article does mention is to screw over the unemployed by denying them benefits, or by at least delaying them. Who cares if people lose their homes, can't afford medicine they might need or can't feed their families? There are poor, suffering CEOs out there that need our tax money to make their bank accounts even larger.
The other way, the one the Republicans and the corporate media doesn't want you to think about, is to decrease spending by decreasing unemployment.
As I've repeatedly pointed out, while he was governor, and for the six months after he left office, Governor Jim Doyle was able to right the ship and start creating jobs. Since Walker and the Republicans have taken over two years ago and started with their "business-friendly" polices and agenda, there has been little to no job growth. In fact, in the past year and a half, Walker hasn't created as many jobs as Doyle's policies had done in the six months after he was out of office.
This is due mostly to the fact that the Republicans have yet passed a law or taken any action to promote job growth. If anything, they have done all they could to help take money out of circulation, killing even more jobs.
Apparently, the Republicans figure it's easier to kick unemployed people when they're down rather than to try to help them pick themselves up. This is especially egregious since the Republicans are the ones that knocked them down in the first place.
ADDENDUM: There is one thing from the above-cited article which really bothers me. The article regurgitated this Republican talking point:
Making it harder to get benefits would help with that process by keeping more money in the fund.I can understand not wanting to spend the money when it's not necessary, but isn't the fund there to be spend when people are unemployed? If they don't want to spend that money on the people who need it most, exactly who are they planning on giving that money to?