(The Center Square) – Top Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly want to spend some of the state’s coronavirus stimulus money to help the thousands of people who are waiting in unemployment limbo in the state. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, led a chorus of Republicans who say the state needs to help the people it has failed. 

“We need to do more to help people who have been waiting weeks or even months for unemployment benefits after losing their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Vos said.”There are families who are struggling to get by and they need help now.”

Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development says there are more than 140,000 people who have yet to have their jobless claims processed. DWD adds that it could be October before that happens.

That comes at the same time that Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman says his agency has tripled its staff. 

“For the past three months, DWD has prioritized expanding our human resources through internal transfers, hiring new team members, and bringing on vendors to answer calls, process claims, and distribute funds to those who are eligible,” Frostman said.

DWD has hired more than 1,000 people since May. 

“While no one could have predicted the impact COVID-19 would have on our livelihoods and our economy, my constituents are frankly fed up with the excuses from Gov. Evers on why it is often taking months to process unemployment claims,” Steineke said.

Vos, Steineke, and the Assembly Republicans are proposing using $40 million from Wisconsin’s share of the CARES Act to provide bridge loans to help people in the unemployment backlog pay their bills until their claims are processed. 

“Our plan is a simple and creative way that people could get help to pay their bills and feed their families. They can’t afford to wait any longer,” Vos said. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.