Kitchens Urges Governor to End Federal Unemployment Bonus

IN MADISON After Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the legislature’s attempt to end the federal unemployment bonus of $300 a week as many other states have done, Rep. Joel Kitchens sent the governor an email citing evidence that showed the measure would help get people back to work. 

Kitchens wrote that although several factors are playing a role in Wisconsin’s “significant worker shortage,” the legislature was confident that terminating involvement in the federal unemployment program would increase the number of people in the labor force.

He said the federal benefit had led people to believe that unemployment was a permanent, rather than temporary, means of income.

“Frankly, if you cannot find work in Wisconsin right now, you are not looking,” he wrote.

Gov. Evers, in his veto message, said there was a lack of evidence to support the notion that eliminating the bonus would send more individuals into the workforce. Kitchens sent that data from several sources, including an analysis by Jefferies economists that appeared in the June 27 edition ofthe Wall Street Journal, which reported that the number of unemployment-benefit recipients was falling at a faster rate in the 20-plus states that have canceled the federal payments.

“As you can see, the data shows terminating involvement in the federal supplement program is a positive first step that is already working,” he wrote.

Kitchens also pointed to an SR Poll Results report that showed 71% of voters favored ending the enhanced federal unemployment payments, including 67% percent of independents and 59% percent of Democrats.