Input on Wisconsin's unemployment and Worker's Compensation programs needed

Wisconsin State Farmer

A Guest Column by Secretary Ray Allen, Department of Workforce Development.

Under the leadership of Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin businesses are experiencing a collective $135 million reduction in Unemployment Insurance taxes over the 2016 and 2017 tax years. Meanwhile, effective October 1, employers across the state experienced a 3.19 percent rate reduction for worker's compensation rates, with manufacturing seeing a 5 percent reduction.  

As the state agency that oversees both programs, the Department of Workforce Development attributes these successes to increased focus on program integrity, solvency and efficiency as key reasons for these two positive developments for Wisconsin's job creators.  These changes didn't happen overnight, and they couldn't have happened without the public's input.

In Wisconsin, the Worker's Compensation (WC) and Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs are guided by advisory councils that make recommendations to the Wisconsin Legislature on changes to their respective programs.  Council members have provided valuable insight and, along with the actions of Governor Walker and the Legislature, have strengthened Wisconsin statute, administrative rules and policies to keep UI and WC programs evolving to meet the demands of the modern workforce and economy. 

While the councils make recommendations based on their individual backgrounds, experiences and knowledge, they also want to hear directly from workers, business owners, attorneys, advocates and other members of the public during public hearings and through written comments.  These comments help shape council recommendations and, potentially, changes to the law. In just one example, the agreed-upon worker's compensation bill that was signed into law earlier this year changed the statute of limitations to file a worker's compensation claim. This change had been advocated during the most recent period to submit public comment.

As taxpayers and members of the public, your voice matters. I encourage you to submit written comments to the councils' chairpersons or participate in the upcoming statewide public hearings and help the councils develop their legislative agendas for the next cycle.  

To submit written comments, contact:

Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council
Janell Knutson, Chair
PO Box 8942
Madison, WI 53708

Worker's Compensation Advisory Council
BJ Dernbach, Chair
PO Box 7901
Madison, WI 53707

Both the Worker's Compensation Advisory Council and the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council will also hold separate statewide video conference public hearings at multiple sites to gather additional input from the public in November.  The statewide public hearing sites for the WC Advisory Council and UI Advisory Council are available online.

Wisconsin's economy is growing and efficient and effective delivery of government services is a large part of that success.  Employers have experienced significant reductions in their operating costs, and Wisconsin's workforce is benefitting from stable and reliable UI and WC programs.   Both advisory councils look forward to gathering your input, and further refining these vital programs.  

Please take the opportunity to ensure your voice is heard.

Department of Workforce Development