Secretary of Administration Joel Brennan: Customer habits will be 'final metric' in coronavirus recovery

Posted at 7:56 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 22:24:55-04

What's next for Wisconsin after the Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers' Safer at Home order?

"Defeating the public health crisis that's going to be job one for all of us," Secretary of Administration Joel Brennan said.

The 4-3 decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to immediately end the Safer an Home order left the state and businesses waiting to reopen to figure out what's next.

"Nothing that's happened this week is going to change what the state's approach is when it comes to meeting and beating the public health aspect of this, said Brennan.

As businesses look to reopen, Secretary Brennan is also looking for ways for the state to return to essential face-to-face services.

"How can we do those things in a way that they can deliver those services, but they can deliver those services being safe?"

The virus has impacted the state's nearly 35,000 employees and the impact on the state's budget is expected to be wide-spread and long-term. Fishing licenses and state park fees are up but income, sales and corporate taxes are way down.

Budget cuts are coming.

"Everybody is doing their part in innovative ways that don't that we can make sure that we get to that 5% without cutting to the bone and delivering services," said Brennan, "but this is just the first step in where we're going to have to eventually go moving forward."

More than 550,000 have filed for unemployment in Wisconsin since March 15th. The state is paying out hundreds of million of dollars right now to help workers but many are still waiting for financial help.

The Department of Workforce Development tells TMJ4 it has been hiring about 200 staff to come on board, and hiring hundreds of staff in an additional call center to specifically deal with calls.

Brennan knows state's resources have been stressed by the pandemic.

"Really doing things so that we can answer these unprecedented challenges as efficiently as we possibly can, but it's not easy. It hasn't been graceful all the time, and it's something that's going to have long standing impact across our state."

But he says the state continues to make progress on testing and tracing, one of many metrics he is watching as the the state faces an ongoing and unpredictable public health crisis..

"The final metric that we're all going to be focused on is what do customers say? What what are people telling us with their habits?" said Secretary Brennan.

In April, Wisconsin lawmakers passed a coronavirus bill that allows the state to accept hundreds of million of federal dollars for healthcare programs on top of $2 billion Wisconsin is set to receive from the Federal Cares Act.

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