Nearly 17,000 laid-offs Pennsylvanians will run out of unemployment benefits for the reason that that state House has yet to approve a bill extending them. The legislation was given approval by the state Senate to offer 13 weeks of additional benefits. The federally funded benefits were agreed by Congress last year. It is necessary for the state to tweak its existing laws so that about $30 million can continue to flow through the end of April.
Some House Republicans feel that approval of the bills should be tied for improving the long-term solvency of PA unemployment compensation system which is currently $3 billion in debt to Washington. The bill that makes the tweaks to state law is put for a vote by the House Labor and Industry Committee and the proposal is expected to come before the full chamber. Rep. Ron Miller, R-York, panel’s chairman tells that he wants to send the bill to the floor and to government. According to experts, if changes are not made then the bill needs to go back to the Senate for further action. But it’s certain whether that will occur.
That’s because the state’s present jobless compensation is a mess. According to David Taylor, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, there are lot of structural troubles throughout the system.
Lawmakers approved and Tom Corbett signed a similar extension last summer. Series of reforms was attached to bill. Moreover, a long sought change requiring benefit recipients to seek for work at the time of receiving unemployment assistance was also attached.
Currently, the business leaders are seeking for language that would limit benefits for residents who willingly quit their jobs. Moreover, they also want the people to use severance packages before they begin receiving public benefits. Taylor said that he is concerned towards jobless residents who for the time being might lose benefits while interest groups and lawmakers work out their differences. As per him, if the conversation is let off, there is no way to get them back and address it again.
In case the bill is changed, it would have to go back to the Senate which is in session only now and then will not return to session until March because of annual budget hearings. Miller says that he wants to get the bill through the Senate and onto Corbett’s desk without any alterations. Meanwhile, the Senate is watching the House and waiting.
Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, the chairman of the Senate Labor says that they are bringing the issue forward and it should be moved on its own. He also said that in case of any problem, unemployed Pennsylvanians could be retroactively paid benefits.
Lawmakers have to pass the legislation until Feb 4, which is expected to be taken up by the Senate. But the Senate and the House are in session only for three days, meaning any concerns will have to be Tom Corbett’s desk before the time limit.