Up to 45,000 unemployed Pennsylvanians will lose their extended compensation benefits unless the General Assembly quickly gets legislation to the Governor to change the law that will allow an extension. Lawmakers face a June 11 deadline.
The Senate recently approved their version of the bill, with bipartisan support. A House version that cuts benefits was scheduled for a vote but it’s now losing support.
“At this point, the Senate version is going to be the one to make it to the governor,” predicted one business lobbyist. “It has the support of both business and labor. It’s not as controversial.”
Some of the state’s unemployed will lose their benefits on June 11 due to a trigger in federal law that activates when the state’s unemployment rate dips below a certain threshold. Long-term unemployment maxes out at 93 weeks of benefits. But because Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has dropped to 7.5 percent, 13 weeks of those benefits are now in jeopardy, according to a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.
“Pennsylvania’s April unemployment rate of 7.5 yielded a 7.8 three-month average, 104 percent two-year lookback figure,” L&I’s David Smith wrote in an e-mail. “Subsequently, federally funded Extended Benefits (13 weeks of benefits) and High- Unemployment Period, or HUP Extended Benefits (7 weeks of benefits) trigger off and those payments, by law, cease three weeks later.”
“In the current scenario, approximately 45,000 people would be cut off of EB as of June 11, 2011, and an additional 90,000 would lose access to EB through the end of 2011,” Smith said.
To continue benefits the law must be change before . before June 11, when a trigger activates and causes the loss of the extended benefits.
The House proposal extends the benefits 13 weeks but also reduces the weekly amount that goes to recipients.
The Senate initiative contains minimal reductions.. The House plan has Governor Corbett’s backing.