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    Since 2007, the Ohio Workforce Coalition has been bringing together leaders from education and training institutions, economic and workforce development organizations, business and industry, labor, and human service providers. The Coalition promotes public policies that build the skills of adult workers, meet employer skill needs, and strengthen the workforce system to ensure opportunity and prosperity for Ohio families.

Senate Advances UI Extension

From the National Skills Coalition, July 20, 2010.

On July 20, after four failed previous attempts, the Senate finally voted to advance legislation (HR 4213) to extend federal expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for out-of-work Americans through November 2010. The $34 billion measure is expected to receive a final vote later today, followed by a House vote tomorrow. More than 2.5 million individuals have lost access to these benefits since the most recent extension expired in early June.

The UI extension was originally included in an ‘extenders bill’ that included a range of tax extensions and domestic spending provisions, including investments in summer youth employment programs and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund .  However, these components were slowly stripped out in an effort to attract votes from Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats who had expressed concerns about the bill’s impact on the federal deficit. The latest version, which is essentially limited to the UI extensions and an extension of the federal homebuyer tax credit, did receive the support of two Republican Senators – Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine – during a procedural vote on June 30, but Democrats still fell short of the sixty votes needed to invoke cloture and move to a final vote on the bill due to the death of West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd. Senate leadership wasted little time advancing the measure following the appointment of Byrd’s successor, Carte Martin; he was sworn into office at about 2:15 p.m., and the vote on the extension bill began at 2:30 p.m.

The legislation extends the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program – which provides up to 53 weeks of extended UI benefits for qualifying individuals – through November 2010, and makes the benefits retroactive for individuals who lost coverage while the program was lapsed. The bill also extends 100 percent federal funding for the Extended Benefits program, which provides additional benefits for individuals in states with higher unemployment rates. The bill does not include an extension of the Federal Additional Compensation program, which provided an additional $25 per week in UI assistance; this program was included in earlier versions of the bill, but was dropped to reduce the overall cost.

National Skills Coalition applauds those Senators who voted for the extension, and will continue to work with lawmakers to advance policies that enable U.S. workers and businesses to weather difficult financial circumstances and begin rebuilding the economy.

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