The one major travesty in Governor Evers’ administration has been the handling of unemployment claims during this COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what actions have been taken, including hiring additional staff, the state just hasn’t been able to keep up with claims for unemployment. To the tune of hundreds of thousands of claims. Yes, headway was made but a lot of Wisconsinites are under economic stress because they aren’t getting the financial relief that they are probably entitled to.

So today the governor finally asked for the resignation of Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman. The DWD handles unemployment claims.

Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman left his job Friday after Evers asked for his resignation immediately.

The governor had grown increasingly frustrated in the lack of progress in clearing the claims and getting benefits to those who deserve them despite increased resources and staffing for the agency, a source close to the governor’s office told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Frostman’s resignation comes at a time when nearly 100,000 Wisconsinites are waiting to hear whether they will receive unemployment benefits.

I am not going to say that this was the wrong move but it is probably a fairly cosmetic move. I find it very doubtful that a new secretary at DWD will be able to have an immediate effect or make effective changes to the process to clear up the backlog quickly. It’s gonna take some time and some thought for a rookie to get up to speed.

And from legislators who have been sitting their hands (other than suing the governor) throughout the pandemic:

Rep. John Nygren, a Republican from Marinette and the co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee, said he didn’t see Frostman as the entire source of the problems with the state’s unemployment system.

“The buck does stop at Caleb Frostman’s desk, but it also stops at Tony Evers’ desk,” Nygren said.

Well, actually in this case, the buck also stops at Rep. John Nygren’s desk.

Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach of West Point said the problem isn’t Frostman – it is an outmoded computer system and a series of laws approved by Republicans over the last decade that made it harder to qualify for benefits.

Erpenbach said legislators should have heeded an audit from Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s time in office that showed there were problems with the state’s unemployment system.

So the Republicans who firmly control both houses of the legislature and former Governor Scott Walker can take some credit here.

And of course the federal unemployment support program didn’t fit handily into the current state unemployment system. A shortcoming that I imagine was shared by any number of other states…and may be an indication that we should have a federal unemployment system. In the meantime:

But Republicans who control the state Legislature have said Evers has not demonstrated enough urgency on the issue, and called for the governor to increase staffing and provide temporary loans to people waiting for benefits.

emphasis mine

I agree with the Republicans here. Governor Evers has not demonstrated enough urgency on the issue. But they have provided no guidance or support other than a persistent nagging whine from their side of the aisle.

And I have a question: Does the governor even have the authority to issue temporary loans and service loans and track repayment of loans to individuals in a case like this? Or is that a pipe dream?

I am glad that the governor did something. But it is late and it isn’t a solution. I’d like to see who he thinks can fix the issue or what else should be done. I’d also like to see the Wisconsin legislature do something as well. Wisconsin as well as the nation as a whole is in the middle of a financial crisis and there is absolutely no urgency in their camp either.

2 Responses to Gov Evers Demands Resignation of Dept of Workforce Development Leader And Gets It.

  1. nonquixote says:

    The perfect opportunity for Evers to offer bipartisan action and to get a recommendation from Nygren and Vos and Fitz for Frostman’s replacement and then appoint that person, thus eliminating any quarrel on approval of the appointment.

    I know Caleb and he’ll bounce back from this situation. Not sure Evers ever will. Just remember that any GOP legislator calling for bipartisanship on anything in WI while they hold a fully gerrymandered majority is full of *#it.

  2. nonquixote says:

    I totally agree with the lack of urgency you mentioned Ed, but any of us can rapidly get into the weeds of how this was never Frostman’s fault as we should easily remember the recent state GOP not willing to address part of the benefit problem early on over SSDI restrictions:

    That as Vos who’s “popcorn empire,” was built up with slave labor (Huber Law) subsidized by state taxpayers as he didn’t seem to have any trouble accessing federal loans from the CARES act:

    Which brings us to examining both political wings of the corporate and fascist bird of economic prey as agreements to bail out the banks, Wall Street and military contractors before states or any workers/laborers, even those forced to work in unsafe conditions for “essential,” industry were contrived by a fully mutual agreement between Pelosi-Schummer and Mnuchin-McConnell where all the state frustration and problems could have been completely avoided by instead giving every US social security card number holder a guaranteed universal basic income payment.

    With a 60% and climbing rate of small businesses that have failed, never coming back and 30M US workers who’ve lost their employment for no fault of their own being ignored by the likes of Ron Kind, Ron Johnson, Mike Gallagher, Tammy (Shammy) Baldwin, AOC and the “Squad,” and Bernie, all small business remaining could be saved by simply instituting universal health care and a UBI.

    Employers relieved of their portion of UC benefit contributions and worker health insurance costs that people (labor) can’t afford the deductibles to begin to seek medical attention in so many cases asnyway, allows immediate help with little red tape or delays to implement.

    A consumer economy with fewer and fewer consumers becomes further chaos, violence and hate fueled by deliberately manufactured desperation under the willing hands of our elected “representatives,” representing only the Oligarchy wishing to discard their excess human baggage (labor) who are no longer needed for manufacturing of goods or providing services.

    Maybe that screed will spur some useful or original discussion. Best and thanks again for the forum.

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