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Erpenbach Wants Obstacles To Jobless Benefits Reduced

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Lawmakers in Madison last week met to discuss problems with the unemployment insurance system now swamped by hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers. Workers have complained they couldn't reach anyone via telephone and if a problem happened, their claim was moved back. The number of calls totals in the millions.

Veteran State Senator Jon Erpenbach of Middleton thinks some kind of reform to the system should happen. Erpenbach says during the Walker Administration more steps were put in place in order to get unemployment and he says that has worked against people applying now...

"Regardless of the intentions back then when they were installed, it's a situation today where obviously nobody could see this coming but it makes it extremely difficult for people to get unemployment now because so many people are unemployed. Having to jump through the additional hoops put in place, obviously there's a lot of frustration..."

Erpenbach says Republicans have pointed fingers at the Department of Workforce Development, but says some of the problems experienced were due to Republican efforts to make the process of getting checks more difficult. He says if someone does something wrong, their benefits are delayed a long time during an investigation as to whether the person qualifies...

"The frustrating part is, anybody going through this process, we need to give them the benefit of the doubt. They didn't choose to be unemployed. This isn't what they choose to do in life. I'm sure they would rather have a job..."

Erpenbach asked Republicans to work with Democrats to find a solution to provide relief to the situation. Erpenbach says getting benefits can be the difference between being able to afford groceries, pay rent, and survive during this pandemic.