Wisconsin Senate OKs unemployment extension — againThousands of out-of-work Wisconsin residents could collect another three months of federal unemployment benefits under a bill the state Senate approved Monday.
By: Associated Press, Superior Telegram
MADISON, Wis. — Thousands of out-of-work Wisconsin residents could collect another three months of federal unemployment benefits under a bill the state Senate approved Monday.
The Senate vote sends the measure to Republican Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. It also wraps up a brief but intense squabble within GOP ranks over whether the extension should hinge on a one-week waiting period before the jobless can collect their first government checks. The maneuvering comes as half a dozen Republican senators position themselves for recall elections next week.
The measure clears the way for an additional 13 weeks of federal unemployment benefits worth about $88 million. The benefits would kick in after people have been out of work for 73 weeks. They would be available retroactively to April, when they ended.
State labor officials estimate the extension could help as many as 40,000 unemployed people in the state collect about $360 a week in federal dollars. The extension wouldn't cost the state a dime. Walker's spokesman has said he will sign the bill.
Democrats have tried to shift debate on the bill from the extensions to the waiting period. The state budget Walker signed in June prohibits anyone from collecting unemployment until they've been out of work for a week. State labor officials estimate the delay will save the state about $50 million. Democrats say the waiting period will only make life that much harder for the unemployed.
Minority Democrats in the Senate proposed an amendment last month that would erase the delay, and in a surprise move majority Republicans added it in a voice vote. The body ultimately passed the measure 30-3 and sent it on to the state Assembly.
Assembly Republicans, though, re-inserted the waiting period into the bill the next day. That move threw the measure into limbo, since both houses must pass an identical bill before it can go to the governor.