Stimulus Unemployment Update: TX and AZ legislature move on changes for funding…

AZ Capitol Times:

The Senate suspended rules April 20 to consider amending two bills to ensure that Arizona collects federal stimulus money for Medicaid programs and for extended unemployment benefits.

Today, the Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee is scheduled to hear the strike-everything amendments to S1102 and S1322. The plan is to pass the measures this week. Both bills contain an emergency clause and would require a supermajority to pass…

…S1322, meanwhile, would allow Arizonans to receive extended unemployment benefits at no cost to the state through the end of the year. …the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made several temporary changes to the extended unemployment benefits program to say the federal government will pay 100 percent of the program’s cost – instead of the usual 50 percent.

First, though, the state must change statute to reflect that the federal government will cover 100 percent of the program’s cost through the end of 2009. Other technical changes also must be made.

Existing state statute provides for a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits if certain “trigger points” are met based on unemployment factors in the labor market.

Department of Economic Security spokeswoman Liz Barker said the trigger points have never been reached. It is unlikely they will be reached in the current economic downturn without statutory changes, she said.

TX: News-Journal.com:

Senators just voted 19-11 for Sen. Kevin Eltife’s bill to expand the state’s unemployment insurance program in order to draw down $555 million in federal stimulus dollars. The bill would ignore Gov. Rick Perry’s wish that the state not receive the stimulus dollars for unemployment…

…Eltife said the federal dollars will cover the cost of changes to the program for nine years and result in the state borrowing less money to keep the state’s unemployment trust fund afloat.

Perry has said he thinks the current unemployment program in Texas works just fine, and that increasing the benefits will increase unemployment taxes on businesses once the federal money runs out….

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April 21, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Economy, Labor Department, Politics, Taxes, Uncategorized, Unemployment Statistics. Comments off.

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