Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill that approves a 13-week extension for federal unemployment benefits in Wisconsin. During a signing ceremony at the Capitol Wednesday, Walker said the legislation allows the state to tap in to nearly $88 million in federal funds to provide additional unemployment benefits for those who have already exhausted their initial 73 weeks.
The Senate approved the bill on Monday, following a political battle that started when Democrats attempted to include a provision that would have repealed a one-week delay in the start of benefits. The Senate initially signed off on the change, but the Republican controlled Assembly rejected the amendment and sent the bill back to the Senate with it removed.
Democrats argued the one-week delay, which was instituted under the biennial budget approved in June, puts an added financial strain on people who have just lost their jobs. The Governor says many unemployed workers are more concerned about the gap that exists when their benefits run out completely, instead of at the start of their unemployment.
Walker says the maneuver by Democrats was nothing more than raw politics and only delayed passage of a bill that should have received bipartisan support.
The Department of Workforce Development plans to begin processing retroactive benefits as early as this coming Friday.