Senate to Meet on August 1 on Bill to Extend Jobless Benefits

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 7:05 PM by

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said yesterday that the state Senate will reconvene on August 1 to finish up work on Senate Bill 147, which would extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for 13 weeks for the long-term unemployed. The bill makes a minor change needed to qualify Wisconsin for about $88 million for the federally-funded extended benefits.

Senator Fitzgerald’s press release said the Senate would concur with the Assembly amendment to SB 147 restoring a provision in the budget bill that created a one-week waiting period before newly unemployed workers are eligible for jobless benefits. As we indicated in a recent blog post, the Senate voted to eliminate the waiting period, which would have allowed the issue to be considered by the UI Advisory Council as part of a broader effort to close a $1.3 billion deficit in the state’s UI Trust Fund.  However, it appears that the Senate will back away from that position and accept the waiting period.

A press release from Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller expresses his strong disappointment at the GOP decision to accept the one-week wait before people who are laid off become eligible for benefits. However, the Democrats probably have no way to get the Assembly to back down, and a continued stalemate would jeopardize passage of the bill (SB 147) to make jobless workers eligible for the federally-funded extended benefits. 

For additional information about the arguments for and against the one-week waiting period, see today’s blog post in WCCF’s “31 Ways in 31 Days” series about the biennial budget bill.

Jon Peacock

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