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 June 5, 2020


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It's no secret that the coronavirus outbreak has caused enormous short-term harm to Wisconsin's economy.  The Wisconsin Department of Revenue has published an economic forecast that illustrates what we know so far about the impact and offers some projections about what we might expect the Wisconsin recovery to look like.


Some of the news is real, real bad.  In the month of April, 440,000 Wisconsinites lost their job, and the bleeding hasn't stopped yet.  (For comparison: job losses during the Great Recession a decade ago totaled 170,000 over two years.  This downturn is already worse than the past several downturns combined.)  Half of all jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector of our economy are already gone.  Personal income grew by 5 percent in 2018 and 4 percent in 2019 but is expected now to grow by just 0.2 percent in 2020.


There is also good news.  The experts predict that the rebound will begin across our economy well prior to the end of the year.  In fact, I'm certain I've never before seen projections as positive as these.  See those steep upward-trending lines in the charts that begin in the second half of 2020 and extend for the next few years?  The harm this spring has been tremendous, but we're going to bounce back.


There is some evidence that the bounce back may already be underway.  The Associated Press' report as of 4:00 AM this morning was going to be:

"America’s workers likely suffered another devastating blow in May, with millions more jobs lost to the viral pandemic and an unemployment rate near or even above 20% for the first time since the Great Depression."

Instead, the lead that they actually ran during mid-morning today was:

"The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May from 14.7%, and 2.5 million jobs were added — a surprisingly positive reading..."

It's too soon to tell whether this surprisingly positive news is an anomaly or if the recovery really is off to an early start.  Either way, I'll take it!


There is more good news as well.  This morning, President Trump signed into federal law a bill that relaxes the restrictions on the federal Paycheck Protection Program loans that many businesses received.  It'll now be easier for businesses to qualify to have those loans forgiven, and if a business does not qualify for loan forgiveness, the repayment period will be five years instead of just two.


In addition, a new round of assistance will become available soon for very small businesses (20 or fewer employees).  Some of the federal CARES Act money that was directed to Wisconsin will be made available as grants that businesses may use for payroll, rent, mortgages, inventory and the like.  The application period will be just one week long, starting on June 15.  Click here for instructions and a list of the application materials you'll need at your fingertips.  I imagine that demand for this program will be high, so make sure you're ready the moment when the application period begins.


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A few other headlines that may have slipped under your radar merit your attention as well:


  • The Wisconsin Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers that July 15 is coming fast.  Usually, your 2019 income tax returns would have been due to the federal and state government no later than April 15; that due date was postponed by coronavirus to July 15.  If you still need to file, you might be wise to hustle now to schedule a tax appointment before the deadline draws much closer!  The Wisconsin DOR's "Individuals" tax prep page, with many resources and frequently asked questions, is accessible here.


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  • The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance wants to remind you that one of the smartest things you can do as a homeowner or renter is to carefully document your belongings and thoughtfully consider whether your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy is sufficient to cover their loss.  Take pictures; keep receipts; write down serial numbers of valuables.  (I recently encountered a heartbreaking situation: I heard from the family of a resident of a Sheboygan-area long-term care facility who lost his expensive hearing aids.  There wasn't much I could do to help; but if the resident had been covered by renter's insurance, the hearing aids probably could have been readily replaced.)  OCI offers a worksheet that you might want to consider using to help you get started.  It's also a good idea to carefully review what your insurance doesn't cover; for instance, many homeowner's policies don't cover flood damage, and some auto policies don't cover damage caused by civil unrest.


  • This weekend is Free Fun Weekend in our great outdoors.  No admission sticker or trail passes are required to visit state properties, and no license is required for fishing; all other regulations still apply.  And, at long last, campgrounds at state parks will reopen next week!  Reservations are required; these may be arranged online or by phone only, but new for 2020, same-day reservations will now be available.  There will be a number of changes/limitations that remain in place, so I strongly suggest that you read through this webpage first to learn more about these before you access the link to the online reservation system.


Best wishes on your weekend!


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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 |