Rep. Nick Milroy (D-South Range) released the following statement on Governor Evers’ State of the State address last night:
As expected, during his State of the State address Governor Evers demonstrated his continued commitment to protecting public health, getting Wisconsinites the resources they need, and ensuring the redistricting process is fair. As we begin a new legislative session, I agree with the governor that addressing the ongoing pandemic with strong COVID-19 response legislation is a critical first step to getting our state back on track. After accomplishing this, focusing on issues such as unemployment, broadband, and drawing fair maps will provide a better Wisconsin for all.
During his speech, Governor Evers shared a staggering statistic: the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has received 8.8 million unemployment claims since March, which is 1.6 million more than was received in total over the last four years. DWD has been working tirelessly to get benefits paid to citizens throughout the state, but COVID-19 has made it clear that our state’s antiquated unemployment system is not equipped to handle the extremely high number of cases it has been receiving.
The Special Session the governor announced in his speech to modernize our broken and outdated unemployment system is much needed. The accompanying legislation he has introduced, providing $5.3 million for DWD to immediately update the system, will be immensely helpful for all who must utilize it. I am hopeful this Special Session will be a productive time for my colleagues and I to work on fixing our unemployment system so Wisconsinites can get the help they need when they need it most.
Additionally, I was thrilled to learn that Governor Evers has named 2021 the Year of Broadband Access. This is a critically important issue in Northwestern Wisconsin, and making access to broadband a top priority will help Wisconsinites live safer, healthier, and better connected lives.
Access to reliable high-speed internet is necessary for meeting with healthcare providers, working remotely, succeeding in online classes, running a successful business, and staying in touch with loved ones. This is especially true due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, far too many residents of my district have had to contend with a lack of access to high quality high-speed internet during a time when so many aspects of our lives have been shifted online. No one deserves to be left behind because they don’t have access to broadband.
In his 2019-21 biennial budget, Governor Evers invested $54 million for broadband access, the largest in Wisconsin history. Last night the governor announced he will nearly quadruple that amount in his upcoming biennial budget, investing an impressive $200 million towards improving access to reliable, high speed internet for Wisconsin. I am grateful that the governor understands the significance of this issue and how it directly impacts the success of our state. I look forward to seeing the ways the governor’s historic investments in broadband help residents of Northwestern Wisconsin and our state as a whole.
At last year’s State of the State address, I was happy to hear Governor Evers’ announcement of the People’s Maps Commission because I believe that every Wisconsin resident deserves to have their voice heard. Last night I was again pleased to learn that the governor’s upcoming biennial budget will include measures that ensure our maps are being drawn fairly, impartially, and transparently, with input from the public. This is a critical component of carrying out the will of the people.
I look forward to working on these important issues laid out by Governor Evers and working to support residents of Northwestern Wisconsin throughout the coming year.