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Author: Tamarine Cornelius

GOP lawmakers seek authoritarian power grab under disguise of COVID-19 aid while pandemic ravages state

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans recently released a proposal that is theoretically a plan to fight COVID-19, but in reality is a thinly-veiled attempt to strip power from schools, local officials, and the Governor, and transfer that power to legislative leaders. The Wisconsin legislature last passed a bill in April, almost eight months ago, and they have not even met since the spring. In fact, Wisconsin’s legislature has been the least-active full-time legislature in the country since the pandemic began, according to a national study. Typically the Wisconsin legislature doesn’t meet this time of year, but this year has been anything...

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A massive revenue shortfall: Wisconsin needs federal funding to save economy and public services

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession are wreaking havoc on Wisconsin. The state is likely facing a massive revenue shortfall, which will significantly affect its budget and ability to provide crucial services. If the President and Congress do not provide substantial additional aid, Wisconsin state and local governments will be forced to lay off teachers and other workers, cut important services like health care and education, and take other actions that would make the recession longer and more painful. These budget cuts would fall most heavily on families with low incomes and people of color, who have already been...

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Unemployment benefits need expansion to help Wisconsin’s skyrocketing rate of jobless workers

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits in Wisconsin has skyrocketed, with initial weekly claims spiking to a level about twenty times the pre-pandemic volume. A new expansion of federally-funded unemployment benefits means that many workers filing for unemployment benefits will have access to additional weeks of benefits and larger weekly checks than was available before the pandemic. These expanded benefits can help jobless workers put food on the table for their families while the economy is shut down to slow the spread of the virus. Unemployment benefits are an especially important lifeline for workers of color. Due...

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Wisconsin lawmakers float partisan extortion scheme by holding COVID-19 relief funds hostage

Republican legislative leaders in Wisconsin are holding millions of dollars in federal Medicaid and unemployment benefits hostage, as they try to force Governor Tony Evers to cede some of his powers to the Republican-controlled legislature. Recognizing the high costs of fighting the coronavirus, the Federal government made additional Medicaid funding available to states. In Wisconsin, the 2018 lame duck law blocks Governor Evers from taking steps to accept this aid money without getting approval from the state legislature. Also, the Federal government is newly offering to pay 100% of the cost of the first week of unemployment benefits for...

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Education’s Lost Decade: Wisconsin has failed to restore adequate funding for public schools

Despite recent increases, Wisconsin’s public K-12 school districts still receive less in state aid than they did a decade ago, prior to historic cuts to education. During that timeframe, state lawmakers chose to pass large tax cuts instead of investing the money in local schools. Lawmakers are also increasingly diverting resources allocated for education to private schools and independent charter schools, reducing the resources available for public school districts, which educate the vast majority of Wisconsin students. Deep funding cuts threaten Wisconsin’s tradition of high-quality public schools, which have long been an engine of Wisconsin’s economic growth. Wisconsin depends...

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Wisconsin’s low-paid workers get left behind again as minimum wages increase in 22 other states

Low-paid workers across the country are getting raises because 22 states increased their minimum wages on January 1 or near the end of last year. Those raises will lift workers out of poverty, help struggling families make ends meet, and make it easier for workers to achieve financial security. A minimum wage increase gives a particular boost to workers of color, for whom a long history of wage discrimination has depressed wages. Unfortunately, Wisconsin workers will not get any of those benefits, as Wisconsin was not among the states that increased their minimum wages. Wisconsin’s minimum wage is still...

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