Evers says he’s looking at CARES Act unemployment loan program, questions if it will help

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers said he’s looking into a Republican proposal to use CARES Act money to help people still waiting on unemployment benefits.

Last week, Assembly Republicans released a plan that would use $40 million of the federally gifted funds to provide zero-interest loans to some of those who have not yet been paid since losing work to the pandemic shutdowns.

The majority of people who filed have been paid, but there are roughly 140,000 people still waiting on benefits.

Evers said he is looking at the idea, but questioned if it would improve the situation.

“I view it as somewhat of a political stunt,” Evers said. “I don’t quite know how we’re going to do it any faster using CARES Act, it’s not as if we have a list of 300 thousand people, suddenly we’re just going to say, ok we’re going to make a guess as to if you’re actually eligible, we’ll send out a bunch of money.”

He said it takes time and people to execute that program, and it would still require checking to make sure claims aren’t fraudulent.

After that, he said he’s not sure it would be faster than the process the Department of Workforce Development has now.

“We are going to continue to work hard to make sure everybody gets the unemployment insurance checks they should get,” Evers said. “We’re making progress on that, and I’m looking forward to the day that everybody that deserves to get one should get one.”

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette and co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, tweeted his response to the governor’s remarks.

“Providing immediate financial assistance to individuals waiting for your administration to process UI claims is not ‘a political stunt,’” he wrote.

Nygren said people have been left on hold for hours with the unemployment insurance office, and one of his constituents lost his house because he ran out of money waiting.