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Gov. Evers calls on lawmakers to fix outdated unemployment insurance system in first virtual State of the State speech

Posted at 10:28 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 23:28:39-05

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers is calling a special session of the legislature to fix the state's unemployment system.

He made that promise during Wisconsin's first-ever virtual State of the State address.

"We've made it through a difficult year folks, and while it was discouraging we aren't defeated," said Gov. Evers.

There was also a moment of silence, as Evers remembered the more than 5,000 Wisconsinites who died from the COVID-19.

"They were moms and dads, brothers and sisters, friends, and coworkers, and they are loved and missed by many," said Evers.

The pandemic upended lives and livelihoods and overloaded the state's antiquated unemployment system that left ten of thousands waiting for a check.

Gov. Evers blamed Republicans, Democrats and previous administrations for not fixing the well-documented broken system that could not handle the historic unemployment claims caused by the pandemic.

"I'm announcing today I will be calling a special session of the Legislature," said Evers, "to take up a plan to modernize our unemployment system and help ensure nothing like this happens to the people of Wisconsin again."

Speaker Robin Vos disagreed, blaming Evers for not acting fast enough to hire staff to handle the flood of claims.

"These failures were not brought on by an ancient system," said Speaker Vos, "they were brought on by a lack of leadership."

Gov. Evers has called out Republican lawmakers for not moving fast enough on his COVID-19 relief funding efforts as vaccinations roll out.

"I know folks are eager to put this virus in the past-frankly, I am, too," said Evers. "I know so many are ready to get vaccinated and get back to life as we knew it, and we are working to distribute vaccine doses as quickly and as fairly as we can."

But not fast enough says Speaker Vos. Republicans claim the state lacks a mass vaccination distribution plan and the urgency to get one done.

"Governor, if you need help, there are offers on the table from the UW System and federal government," said Speaker Vos. "The vaccine distribution effort should be an all hands on deck operation. There's no room for delays and no need for excuses."

Speaker Vos was also critical of Senate Republicans - for "caving to a compromise COVID relief bill with Gov. Evers, instead of passing the one approved by Assembly Republicans."

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