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Panel plans stiffer penalties for unemployment fraud

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the Legislature’s budget committee plan to impose stiffer civil penalties for unemployment fraud but scrap plans to create harsher criminal penalties.

Right now penalties can include losing eligibility, a surcharge equal to 15 percent of the benefits erroneously paid, criminal fines ranging from $100 to $500 and up to 90 days in jail.

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget calls for upping the surcharge to 40 percent and creating a scale of criminal penalties ranging from a $10,000 fine and up to nine months in jail to $25,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Committee Republicans released plan Wednesday that calls for adopting the surcharge increase but rejecting the criminal penalty changes. The committee was expected to vote on the plan later Wednesday afternoon or evening.

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