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 December 17, 2020



This week, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos formally reappointed me to serve you for two more years as a member of the state's Joint Finance Committee.  This is a responsibility and an honor that I do not take lightly.  I deeply appreciate having the privilege to speak for the people of Sheboygan County in the room where our budgeting decisions take shape.


Two new Assembly GOP members will join the committee and serve alongside me there.  Rep. Tony Kurtz has made a very strong impression among our team.  He's a grain farmer now, but he piloted attack helicopters for 20 years and volunteered to serve America in two foreign wars.  And Rep. Jessie Rodriguez brings a wide variety of experience to the committee as well; born in El Salvador, she has served most recently as the chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Family Law and as a member of our committees on health, education and energy.  All of us are eager to get to work with incoming JFC co-chair Rep. Mark Born, from whom I learned a great deal in my first years on the committee.


Our work is cut out for us.  There has been much economic harm over the past year that is going to affect state revenues.  But we're committed again to funding our priorities responsibly without raising taxes on the individuals, families and businesses who have already suffered enough.


From my family to yours: Merry Christmas!


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Unemployment Audit


The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau recently completed an independent look into claims processing in the Unemployment Insurance division.  Their full report is accessible here.


Between March 15 and October 10, DWD put 78 percent (!) of people's initial claims into adjudication.  On average, that took 13 weeks.  On average, DWD was responsible for 11 of those 13 weeks; very frequently, DWD already had the information it needed from people to resolve their claims and failed to act on it, or they delayed requesting the information they needed.  As of mid-October, there were still more than 96,000 people waiting to be served.


Now, we are receiving reports that DWD is trying to claw back some folks' benefits that the department has just recently determined to have been wrongly paid.  Imagine applying in good faith for UI benefits, waiting an average of more than three months, finally receiving your money, paying your overdue bills... and then receiving a letter that you owe thousands of dollars to the state because of the state's error.  What a nightmare!


In April, I voted to change state law to allow DWD to move state employees around to fill the manpower gaps; they never used that option.  They didn't extend call center hours or require employees to work overtime.  They said at the time that their software was the problem; but they didn't use any money available to them to fix the software, and even their 2021 budget request doesn't include a software fix.  This wasn't a software failure; this was a leadership failure.


That's unacceptable.  Republicans' latest legislative proposals require an immediate elimination of the claims backlog, an expansion of call center hours and pay cuts for the department chiefs if these fixes do not occur.






This is officially the best idea I've come across in a while.


If you have any last-minute shopping to do, or even if you don't, take a moment to visit www.mainstreetwi.com.  It's the "Amazon" of Wisconsin small businesses.  At the moment, from this single homepage, you can sort through 536 Wisconsin businesses (and counting) who hope you'll stumble across their online shops; I see at least nine that are based in Sheboygan County.


Our small local stores need your business this year more than ever before!



Office of Representative Terry Katsma
State Capitol, Room 306 East
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-0656
Rep.Katsma@legis.wisconsin.gov |