June 2020 Small Business Update
NFIB Backs Plan to Re-Open Business
The Assembly Committee on State Affairs held a public hearing to consider the most appropriate path forward to re-open Wisconsin’s economy.
NFIB provided a statement to the Committee with a warning that “if the state fails to recognize or delays a plan for putting Wisconsin back to work, the road to recovery will be much longer and more difficult.”
NFIB’s State Director, Bill G. Smith, said, “we face a challenging economic reality that must be addressed with the same commitment and attention given to data, science, flexibility, and practicality.”
Historic High Unemployment Claims
The Department of Workforce Development reports the unprecedented claim volume for unemployment insurance benefits is 194% higher than the average number of weekly claims received during the first week of the great recession. If the UI Trust Fund runs out of money to pay benefits, it is likely the state would need to borrow from the federal government to continue benefit payments. The repayment and replenishment of the fund is paid for by taxes and assessments on Wisconsin’s employers.
The Economic Shut Down Impacts State Budget
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released preliminary numbers that show tax collections in April 2020 are $870 million below collections in April 2019. The Bureau cautions it is too early to project accurately but estimates the general fund balance will “undoubtedly” decrease as reduced collections are likely in May and June.
The Department of Administration has implemented a 5% reduction ($70 million) in state agency spending, limit out of state travel, hiring freeze, and suspension of merit and employee retention programs. Less spending likely to continue….
The Badger Institute estimates that if the shutdown were to continue for all of 2020 (including pre-shutdown months), it would cost Wisconsin $65.3 billion in lost economic activity or a daily Gross Domestic Product loss of $178.9 million.
Small Business Owners Anxious to Re-open
Wisconsin’s small business owners say they are not concerned about government lifting restrictions too early – 74% want to re-open immediately. That’s according to a survey of NFIB members which also showed an overwhelming majority believe the stay-at-home and business closure order all too restrictive.
Although the result of a decision last month by the Wisconsin Supreme Court allowed businesses in most counties to re-open, a few counties issued their own orders that kept businesses closed or with very limited economic activity.
NFIB Urges Legislative Action to Prevent Frivolous Lawsuits
NFIB survey results show nearly 70% of our members are concerned about increases in liability claims as they re-open their businesses. All across America COVID-19 related lawsuits have been filed as trial lawyers see an opportunity to cash in from the pandemic crisis.
The Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, a coalition of 15 statewide organizations, led by NFIB, is urging the Legislature to approve legislation that would provide small business owners some protections from frivolous lawsuits.
As business owners work to bring back family supporting jobs and serve their customers, NFIB believes they should not be at risk of becoming a victim of a frivolous COVID-related lawsuit.