One might assume a once-per-century pandemic, economic recession and social anarchy might justify using a rainy day fund. These things are about as worse as it gets, right?
Well, for the Wisconsin Legislature, it’s just not rainy enough yet.
Living conditions aren’t exactly spectacular in Wisconsin at the moment.
A Struggling State
3.8% of the state, or 117,000 people, are unemployed. That’s a lot better than the near 15% that were out of jobs when the pandemic started in 2020, but still high since most of the state has ended COVID-19 restrictions.
29% of small businesses permanently closed during the pandemic. This fact is devastating. It doesn’t just mean a chain restaurant or clothing store is packing up, but instead a unique (likely family-owned) business shutting down for good.
Landlords are evicting renters despite a nationwide eviction moratorium that prevents them from doing so. People can’t pay their rent, and landlords are using other accusations to kick them out. Homelessness in a Wisconsin January isn’t a tropical vacation either.
One in seven Wisconsinites are facing hunger during the pandemic. Those levels will stay the same or even rise before things return to normal.
The Wisconsin Assembly GOP just tweeted out that the rainy day fund “is now closing in on $1 billion.” The largest in Wisconsin history.
Hmm, I wonder what that huge sum of money could be used for? How about
- Increasing state unemployment benefits?
- Expanding the small business recovery grant program?
- Paying renters’ rent, or funding a system to prosecute illegal evictors?
- Providing extra funds to the state’s FoodShare program?
If this year hasn’t been a rainy day, I’m not sure what is. These funds are consistently saved from taxpayers for moments when the taxpayers are in desperate need, but are instead being used as a mere political talking point.