Stimulus Unemployment Benefits Update: VA, FL, ME, OH, IN…

Updates on how states’ legislators are moving on the UE benefits money in the stimulus:

OH: (TimesBulletin)

…Ohio is one of 13 states plus the District of Columbia that is missing out on federal stimulus funding for extended unemployment benefits. State legislators would have to make a change in the law to make those who have reached the end of their already-extended unemployment benefits eligible for up to 20 more weeks of benefits.

A provision in the stimulus bill would cover the extension of benefits beyond the first phase of 26 weeks and the second phase of 33 weeks, but that provision kicks in only for states that average more than 6.5 percent unemployment in a three-month period. Those states would receive funding for 13 weeks of benefits, and if the rate clears 8.0 percent for a three-month period, another 7 weeks are available.

…, 16 states and Puerto Rico already qualify for the extended benefits program under one of the program’s provisions: Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Alaska, Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Washington qualify for 13 weeks of benefits.

Oregon and Rhode Island already qualify for 20 weeks of extended benefits. As a result, about 405,000 workers in those states will qualify for extended benefits when their EUC benefits expire between now and June.

States that would have to change law to allow workers to receive the extended benefits besides Ohio are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, and Tennessee.

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March 25, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economy, Politics, Taxes, Unemployment Statistics. 28 comments.

Stimulus Package Unemployment Benefits Update: Nevada to turn down some funding too..MS update…

Yep, the beat goes on as more and more states find that the strings attached to the federal stimulus money will leave them in a worse position down the road:

Channel 8 Eyewitness News Las Vegas Now:

Nevada stands to get hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus money, but Governor Jim Gibbons says he will pass on some of it.

Governor Gibbons says there are just too many strings attached to some of the federal stimulus dollars. The governor says he will take the money without unfunded mandates.

“Let me give you just one; it’s the unemployment insurance level. It’s just four weeks of assistance that they are giving us, but it requires mandatory, permanent, irrevocable changes to our tax system and to how we decide who qualifies for receiving unemployment,” he said.

Nevada would receive more than $76 million for the extra four weeks. The governor says it’s not worth it and the state would be stuck with a higher business tax because of federal regulations.

The governor says he will also reject the stimulus money for school maintenance. In the bill, he says the state would have to spend an additional $500 million to get $300 million in stimulus money.

Update from Mississippi, where the State Senate is backing Governor Barbour over the State House attempts to bypass him and get stimulus funds anyway…

The Commercial Dispatch:

The Republican-controlled state Senate will likely block the House’s attempt to accept all of the $2.8 billion Mississippi is projected to get for helping fund government services and assist people struggling through the economic recession.

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March 6, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economy, Labor Department, Obama Administration, Politics, Taxatrion, Taxes, Uncategorized, Unemployment Statistics. 3 comments.

Economic Stimulus Update: Unemployment Benefits…FL

by Keith Knight

by Keith Knight

The states are between a rock and a hard place on the stimulus, to take or not to take, that is the question…

LYRICS, ROLLING STONES:

The fields of Eden Are full of trash
But if we beg and we borrow and steal
We’ll never get it back

People are hungry They crowd around
And the city gets bigger as the country comes begging to town
We’re stuck between a rock And a hard place
Between a rock and a hard place

Update from FL, where the GOP Governor and State Legislature are having the same battles over the Federal Stimulus as we are in AZ….

St Petersburg Times:

Crist portrays the federal aid as a panacea that would allow the state to avoid deep budget cuts, afford some property-tax cuts and increase spending.

“It’s a whole new world,” Crist said. “We’re in an economic crisis. We need this money to get us to a bridge to a better future. And I believe that by the time those three years pass we will be on the rebound.”

But three years of record job losses, plummeting tax collections and a flat-lined housing market mean legislators don’t all share Crist’s optimism. “The governor has a very positive outlook and I mean that with all due respect,” said Republican Senate President Jeff Atwater. “We don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t know how deep this (bad economy) is going to go. We don’t know how long this is going to last.”

That is the question. What happens if the economy doesn not recover and all these long term changes to state laws are enacted? The states would be in thrall to Federal handouts..

Legislators fret that Crist’s $66.5 billion budget proposal for next year is based on rosy financial assumptions that will likely be disproved when state economists meet March 13 to estimate state revenues. Also of concern in Crist’s budget: Of the government expenses that occur annually, 12 percent would be paid for through one-time money sources, such as the stimulus package.

What does it take to get it passed?

The state Constitution requires a supermajority vote of the Legislature if more than 3 percent of recurring expenses are funded from one-time money sources.

Legislators worry about expanding government programs — especially Medicaid — with money that would disappear in three years, leaving the state with large entitlement programs and less money.

“It’s like someone gave you a Mercedes and said they made a few down payments. Now the rest is up to you,” said Punta Gorda Republican Rep. Paige Kreegel.

Atwater and acting House Speaker Larry Cretul say they’re also unsure what strings might be attached to the hastily passed stimulus package.

The package seeks to ensure that legislators don’t cut programs that already receive federal money. So to get the bulk of the cash, Florida has to maintain relatively high levels of spending for health care, schools and transportation.

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March 2, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , . Economy, Finance, Foreclosures, Housing, Labor Department, Music, Obama Administration, Politics, Popular Culture, Uncategorized, Unemployment Statistics, Wall St. 1 comment.

Update: Stimulus Package Unemployment Benefits – what states are already eligible without changes to UE law…plus GA update

Update on states as they review the Unemployment Strings and decide how much of the stimulus unemployment benefits to accept:

eGov monitor:

The unemployment insurance program gets its funds from federal and state employer payroll taxes, with states levying the biggest share. States administer the program, determining who is eligible and how much benefits will be.

19 states will soon receive a share of the $7 billion stimulus program designed to induce states to give more low-income workers unemployment benefits. Other suggested reforms in the act would provide benefits to part-time workers, those who leave jobs to take care of their families, and long-term workers who need retraining. The act also calls for higher benefits for workers with dependents.

To get at least one-third of their share of the $7 billion stimulus fund, states must count recent earnings in considering applicants. To get the rest, they have to adopt at least two of the other proposed reforms.

What states already qualify for the funds?

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February 27, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Doo Wop, Economy, Entertainment, Finance, Music, Obama Administration, Politics, Popular Culture, Uncategorized, Unemployment Statistics. 6 comments.

Stimulus Unemployment Benefits: Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen may reject unemployment expansion funds too…AL also…

Add a Democrat to the growing ranks of Governors who would rather not raise business taxes in a few years when the Federal money runs out….

WSJ:

Bredesen, who says he is “on a fairly short list” of candidates for health and human services secretary, told a Chattanooga paper that he is considering turning down federal funds for unemployment insurance included in the economic recovery package signed by the president last week.

He would be the first Democrat to refuse part of the stimulus for states, joining Republican governors like South Carolina’s Mark Sanford and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, who is giving the GOP response to Obama’s economic address this evening.

Bredesen is concerned that accepting $141 million for Tennessee’s unemployment insurance would force the state to expand the program and leave state taxpayers with the bill in two years’ time.

“We are evaluating this piece of money, whether it makes sense for us to take it,” he said. “We may well be one of the states that say we can’t take on that portion of it.”

ALABAMA UPDATE: From Al.com

Gov. Riley said the $66 million allocated to Alabama for expanded unemployment benefits would run out in four years, leaving the state with a permanent unfunded mandate that would result in a $17-million-a-year tax in crease on employers and possibly employees.

As Gov. Riley noted, this is a tax on jobs “at a time when we need to create jobs.” Gov. Barbour pointed out that “you don’t get more jobs by putting an extra tax on creating jobs.”

February 25, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economy, Labor Department, Obama Administration, Politics, Uncategorized, Unemployment Statistics. Comments off.

Stimulus Package: Unemployment Benefits Additions explained….Jindall refuses money to expand eligibility for UE benefits, accepts the funds for those already eligible…

workforfoodGovernor Jindall is accepting funds for LA to increase the UE benefits $25.00 a week to those  eligible under existing UE guidelines, but is rejecting the ‘incentive’ funds designed to expand UE to Part Time workers and those who voluntarily resign for certain reasons.I totally support this move, it makes the msot fiscal sense. Details on the incentives below..

Stimulus Package Unemployment Benefit details explained, from Workforce Management:

The stimulus package also could result in lasting changes to the nation’s unemployment insurance system. Under the legislation, the federal government would fund states to modernize programs criticized by some as plagued by outdated eligibility requirements. Incentive payments would go to states that have, or would adopt, certain features in their jobless-benefits programs.

What do the states have to agree to to get the funds? Note: LA Governor Jindall turned down this money today for LA:

Chief among the reforms specified in the act is use of an “alternative base period.” This is designed to get states to consider a person’s earnings in the most recent completed quarter when determining eligibility, which can help lower-wage workers qualify for benefits.

States using an alternative base period could receive additional money if they have or embrace at least two other measures from a list of options. The possibilities include allowing people seeking part-time work to qualify for benefits and not disqualifying individuals from jobless benefits if they’ve left work for a compelling family reason, including the illness or disability of a family member.

Other changes to unemployment in the stimulus (warning MSNBC linky, ugh!):

The stimulus bill also increases weekly unemployment benefits by $25 through 2009. The amount of your unemployment benefits continues to vary based on your previous income and your state, but everyone will receive an extra $25 per week. This increase is automatic — people who are receiving benefits won’t need to take any special steps to boost their benefits. But it may take a few weeks for the state unemployment offices to reprogram their software programs and add the extra money, says Rich Hobbie, executive director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.

Plus, people collecting unemployment benefits get a tax break. Unemployment benefits are usually subject to federal income tax. But people receiving unemployment benefits in 2009 will be able to exclude the first $2,400. Any benefits you receive beyond that in 2009 will be subject to federal income tax.

The bill also extends the emergency unemployment-compensation program, which provides up to 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to workers who exhaust their regular benefits. Contact your state unemployment-benefits office for more information about receiving extended benefits (see the unemployment benefits map for links.

For more information about collecting unemployment benefits, see What You Need to Know About Unemployment Benefits.

Debate continues on efficacy of changes:

The likely effect of the modernization reforms on employers is subject to debate, with one side arguing that a stronger safety net will help businesses by stimulating economic demand amid downturns and another camp worried that firms’ unemployment taxes will rise.

More on some Governors turning down the funds, warning NYT:

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana announced Friday that he would reject a portion of expanded unemployment benefits that would eventually require the state to raise taxes on businesses.

And the governors of Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas have said their states may not want to meet the conditions that accompany the money or expand programs that will have to be paid for by the state once the stimulus money runs out.

From BayouBuzz.com:

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that the state will not change its law to use a part of the $787 billion federal stimulus bill that would result in an unemployment insurance tax increase on Louisiana businesses. The Governor also announced that the state will use a provision in the legislation to increase state unemployment benefits for recipients by an extra $25 per week, and reaffirmed his acceptance of the transportation funds included in the bill to fund shovel-ready transportation priorities in the state.

(more…)

February 21, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , . Economy, Finance, Labor Department, Obama Administration, Politics, Uncategorized, Unemployment Statistics, Wall St. 8 comments.

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