MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers
wants to boost Wisconsin’s unemployment benefits and eliminate some
requirements to qualify for them.
The Democratic governor has proposed raising the maximum rate for
unemployment benefits from $370 to $406 a week as part of the next
state budget, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Officials with Evers’ administration said Wisconsin’s jobless
benefit rate is less than most other states.
Some critics question the move during a time of record-low
unemployment, while others worry the state could make it too
enticing to claim jobless benefits.
‘‘We want people in the workforce now, particularly when jobs are
plentiful,’’ said Republican Rep. Mike Rohrkaste. ‘‘Let’s push
people that can be working to be working.’’
Ben Jedd, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce
Development, said that the state’s benefit rate would still be below
the national average, even with Evers’ proposed increase.
Evers has also proposed eliminating the state’s one-week waiting
period to qualify for unemployment benefits, as well as a
requirement that applicants submit to drug testing to receive
Other changes in Evers’ budget proposal include dropping a provision
that makes people ineligible for benefits if they were fired for
what the law defines as ‘‘substantial fault,’’ or failure to conform
to a ‘‘reasonable’’ employer job policy. The standard has been
contested in recent court cases, in which judges found it was
improperly used to deny applicants benefits.
Victor Forberger, a Madison attorney who specializes in employment
law, said some of the state’s requirements for benefit eligibility
hurt areas such as northern Wisconsin, where many residents work
blue-collar seasonal jobs and file for unemployment in the winter.