MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak in Wisconsin (all times local):
Gov. Tony Evers’ administration has ordered state agencies to cut spending by 5% as revenue drops during the coronavirus pandemic.
WisPolitics.com obtained a letter that state Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan sent to state employees Tuesday evening informing them of the cut.
Brennan also said in the letter that a state hiring freeze will continue albeit with exemptions for positions related to responding to the pandemic and positions considered essential for maintaining state agency functions. Merit raises have been suspended and employee travel will be restricted to pandemic response, he added.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Evers told President Donald Trump in a recent letter that the state could lose as much as $2 billion over the next year, although the administration hasn’t conducted a revenue projection since the pandemic began.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a ripple effect on frack sand mining plants in Wisconsin. At least three plants have shut down this month amid crashing oil and gas prices.
The latest plant closure was reported this week to the state Department of Workforce Development. Eau Claire-based Smart Sand said it was laying off 55 workers at its plant in Tomah, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Hi-Crush Inc. said it would permanently lay off 67 workers. A total of 35 jobs will be cut at a plant in Whitehall and 32 at a plant in Taylor.
“The layoff is in response to unforeseen business circumstances related to the acute and precipitous downturn in oil and gas prices driven by the Saudi/Russia oil price war and the related impacts of COVID-19 on the demand for the company’s sand product,” Hi-Crush said in a letter to state officials.
Sand is used in the process of fracturing shale rock to get the oil and natural gas held within the rock.