Governor Tony Evers is allocating a total of $130 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid to address Wisconsin’s worker shortage. That money will be divided between three separate initiatives.
A bulk of the funding, $100 million, will go towards a new program aimed at connecting workers and potential employers. Speaking at a press conference today, Evers said that the program will provide grants to at least ten Wisconsin communities.
“These workforce innovation grants will put resources in local hands to develop solutions that are right for their communities to create economic prosperity,” he says.
Twenty million dollars will go towards a program to subsidize employment and skills training for unemployed, and underemployed, individuals. The final $10 million will fund a program connecting unemployed folks with career coaches.
“Wisconsin is bouncing back, but we can’t take our foot of the gas now, and these investments will help get folks back to work to help our families and our communities and our state recover together,” Evers says.
Addressing the worker shortage has been a contentious issue between Evers and legislative Republicans. Last month, the governor vetoed a Republican-backed bill that would have ended federal unemployment supplements for Wisconsinites.
Under that program, which is set to expire in September, residents collecting unemployment can receive $300 in additional payments per week.
Speaking at a press conference in May, Republican State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos argued that the extra unemployment was disincentivizing people from returning to work.
“We see every single manufacturer that we spoke with, large and small, saying the same thing. They’re seeing a smaller number of applicants,” Vos told reporters. “They’re seeing the folks who do apply not necessarily show up for interviews. I think we need to do something different.”
According to USA Today, at least 25 other states have cut the federal unemployment surplus.
Photo by Brian Standing for WORT-FM