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Gov. Evers calls for special session to address unemployment insurance

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MADISON (WKOW) — Following his 2021 State of the State Address, Gov. Tony Evers today signed Executive Order #103 calling a special session of the Legislature at noon on Tues., Jan. 19, 2021, to fix and modernize the state's broken unemployment system.

The governor also introduced his plan, LRB-1312.

Gov. Evers' plan, LRB-1312/LRB-1430, appropriates over $5.3 million so that the DWD can start immediately working toward modernizing the UI system, without having to wait for the conclusion of the budget process.

Of this, $481,700 is for the request for proposal (RFP) process to hire consultants and select a vendor for the modernization, and the remainder is for the initial round of payments under the Master Lease Program.

Using the Master Lease Program will help minimize upfront costs while still moving expediently toward upgrades.

Additionally, the bill provides for a potential clawback of state dollars should the federal government provide additional resources to states to fund UI modernization for which this project is eligible. Any federal dollars that are appropriated would need to be used first.

Finally, the bill contains several provisions related to electronic methods for engaging in transactions, such as making electronic communication mandatory, with a good cause exception, and specifically permits the use of electronic records and signatures for UI. These changes will allow for more efficient communication with and service to claimants, employers, and other entities.

Overall, the proposed investment would total approximately $90 million over 10 years toward modernization to provide better, faster services to future claimants and improve the system’s ability to respond to future recessions.

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