FROM CROOKS AND LIARS
So Far, 25 States Have Emptied Their Unemployment Funds
By Susie Madrak
You have to love how utterly shameless these Republican oligarchs are. In the middle of a massive recession, a Republican governor is complaining about "Rolls Royce" unemployment benefits in Indiana. By "Rolls Royce," I assume he means anyone who's getting enough money to pay for heat is living too damned high on the hog.
Maximum weekly unemployment benefit in Indiana: $360.
But that's not even news, is it? That the party that so happily poured billions of untracked dollars down the memory hole in Iraq is suddenly so thrifty when it comes to us cannot be a shock to any sentient being:
The recession's jobless toll is draining unemployment-compensation funds so fast that according to federal projections, 40 state programs will go broke within two years and need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing the benefit checks.
The shortfalls are putting pressure on governments to either raise taxes or shrink the aid payments.
Debates over the state benefit programs have erupted in South Carolina, Nevada, Kansas, Vermont and Indiana. And the budget gaps are expected to spread and become more acute in the coming year, compelling legislators in many states to reconsider their operations.
Currently, 25 states have run out of unemployment money and have borrowed $24 billion from the federal government to cover the gaps. By 2011, according to Department of Labor estimates, 40 state funds will have been emptied by the jobless tsunami.
"There's immense pressure, and it's got to be faced," said Indiana state Rep. David Niezgodski (D), a sponsor of a bill that addressed the gaps in Indiana's unemployment program. "Our system was absolutely broke."
The Indiana legislation protected the aid checks, Niezgodski said, but it came after a give-and-take this spring in which Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R) said the state had been providing "Rolls-Royce benefits" and several thousand union workers countered by protesting proposed cuts at the state capitol. In January, the legislature is slated to consider a bill to delay the proposed tax increases intended to refill the fund.