Wisconsin politicians discuss keeping the economy afloat as pandemic continues

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) spoke on several workforce related issues in the Eau Claire Chamber's Eggs and Issues.
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 5:55 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Businesses everywhere have been dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some businesses are receiving loans to stay afloat but some of this financial aid expires soon.

In Eggs and Issues hosted by the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) discussed some of the issues that businesses continue to face including the expiration of PPP loans.

Johnson says all businesses should not continue relying on these loans, especially those who do not need the aid.

“I think PPP was a good program overall,” Johnson says. “But it only worked well if this was a short 8 week shutdown.”

However, Kind says it is too early to end the PPP program completely.

“A few weeks ago the house did pass the Heroes Act and we have got that language in the Heroes act so you can qualify for “PPP” assistance,” Kind says.

For Sandy O’Connell, owner of Avalon Floral in Eau Claire, PPP loans have allowed her to keep most of her employees after the pandemic interrupted her business.

“Summer is usually slow but then you add this on top of it,” O’Connell says. “We use it for payroll, rent which is nice, and some utility expenses but mostly payroll.”

However with the PPP program set to end in August, O’Connell hopes the government is able to come up with something else to continue helping businesses like hers.

O’Connell is also hoping for loan forgiveness, something Kind says may be possible for loans $150,000 or less.

One thing the politicians could easily agree on is that wearing a mask is essential to keep the economy open.

“When I go into a public situation, a grocery store, somewhere you can’t socially distance, I am wearing a mask and I think most people should,” Johnson says.

“I never viewed this as a red issue or a blue issue it is a red white and blue issue,” Kind says.

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