(MADISON, WI) — Yesterday, on the same day an op-ed from Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski was published slamming Trump and his administration for their failure to help the state’s small businesses, the Department of Workforce Development reported the Badger state hit 14.1% unemployment. The private sector lost 385,900 jobs with a total of 439,400 total non-farm job losses from March to April of this year.
In her op-ed, Godlewski pointed out that “Small businesses are the economic engine that make up 99% of our state’s economy,” and that “the Trump administration continues to pick Wall Street over Main Street, and hardworking Wisconsinites continue to struggle.” Small business owners are also speaking out, highlighting that they wouldn’t be in this position had Trump taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously from the beginning.
Read the full op-ed below.
Before I was elected state treasurer, I was a small business owner, focused on helping startup companies. To this day, I love working with mom and pop shops because they are some of the hardest working people I know. The grit and work ethic they exude are the lifeblood of our communities. Wisconsin’s economy relies on small businesses to fuel our state. The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency that no one ever imagined, and despite businesses’ best efforts to plan for financial uncertainty, we have not seen a crisis of this scale and breadth before. This unprecedented time calls for unprecedented financial support to our small business community. While Congress and state governments across the country have taken action to support businesses, local businesses in Wisconsin haven’t gotten the resources they need due to negligent leadership from the Trump administration.
Like so many others, I am frustrated that the Paycheck Protection Program funds, which come from taxpayer dollars, are being misused. These funds were meant to help small businesses overcome financial challenges caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Instead, they went to mega corporations that got special treatment while mom and pop shops back home struggled to figure out how to even apply for the funds before they ran dry. While the PPP funds have been replenished, the Trump administration continues to pick Wall Street over Main Street, and hardworking Wisconsinites continue to struggle. I’m sick of seeing local businesses across the state unable to pay bills when the administration disregards the intent of Congress by distributing millions to fast food chains, big pharma and investment firms.
Small businesses don’t want a handout — they want a program that is fair, transparent and accountable. I’ve heard from too many small business owners who’ve been shut out of PPP funds while billion dollar corporations are cashing in. There are businesses that submitted their applications as soon as the portal opened, only to find out they’d been pushed aside by big businesses with special arrangements. And still more are just waiting to get their PPP funds long after submitting their applications.
Here at the state level, we are all hands on deck. Gov. Evers and his administration are doing what they can to provide relief, whether it’s WEDC’s grants of up to $20,000 or a utility freeze to prevent electric and water shut-offs in local communities. As the state treasurer I am doing all that I can to listen to what Wisconsinites need and collaborate on innovative financing solutions. This is a role I do not take lightly; when our businesses are struggling to access funding, I will continue to fight to bring these dollars home.
But Wisconsin can’t do it alone. We need the president to stand up for our small businesses and ensure that the programs created to help them do just that.
As the state’s chief financial officer, I think it is crucial not only for small businesses but for taxpayers that the programs foster transparency, accountability and support to small businesses. The Small Business Administration needs to release a list of businesses that received PPP funding and how much they received. PPP funds should be set aside for businesses with 20 employees or fewer. We need transparency and accountability to ensure the money appropriated by Congress is actually allocated by the administration to support our small businesses — which helps our people and helps our community.
Small businesses are the economic engine that make up 99% of our state’s economy. Fighting for small businesses is essential to Wisconsin’s well-being. Main street is what makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin. I fear without these changes supporting our mom and pop shops, the Trump administration will make the Badger State unrecognizable for years to come.