The deadline for lawmakers to send a unemployment compensation bill to Governor Corbett stretched a week, from June 11 to June 17. If they miss the deadline, up to 45,000 unemployed Pennsylvanians will lose their extended compensation benefits.
“There’s been no change in the law or federal policy just the timing of this is such that if the Governor signs the bill on or before June 17, the payments will not be interrupted,” said Department of Labor & Industry spokesman Christopher Manlove.
Meanwhile, lawmakers say they have made some progress consolidating House and Senate versions of the bill. Part of that compromise is a promise to some to that the system’s unfunded liability will be addressed in the fall.
House Republicans moved a bill from the Labor and Industry Committee the week of June 6. The full House plans to consider the bill the week of June 13.
An amendment attached in committee would lessen benefits if the unemployed worker is receiving severance pay. Another amendment clarify actions by a worker that constitute willful misconduct.
Earlier, the Senate approved its version of the plan, with bipartisan support. The General Assembly will have to agree on the two versions before June 17. Then a trigger in federal law activates because 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 twoyear 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.