TUESDAY, Sept. 15, 2009 (517) 999-3646

Congress is ready to act while state Senate refuses to give relief

LANSING – Citizens watchdog Progress Michigan today called on the state Senate to end months of stonewalling and take action to free up $138 million in extended unemployment assistance for people to get part-time work and training.

The U.S. Senate is to hold hearings today on extending unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks, and the U.S. house is poised to follow. In Lansing, the state Senate and Republican Leader Mike Bishop have consistently refused to even hold hearings on providing much-needed relief to unemployed families. Michigan has the nation’s worst unemployment rate, at 15 percent, with more than

“The Michigan State Senate’s refusal to provide relief to struggling Michigan families facing the worst economy in generations is irresponsible and unconscionable,” Progress Michigan Executive Director David Holtz said. “All year, the State Senate and Sen. Mike Bishop have said no to Michigan families and sided with the corporate special interests. Sen. Mike Bishop’s refusal to provide a helping hand to Michigan citizens can make the difference between whether a family puts food on the table or not.”

More than 700,000 Michigan citizens are out of work and nearly a half-million Michigan citizens receive unemployment benefits. The business-labor Economic Alliance on Monday warned that 100,000 Michigan citizens will lose unemployment assistance by the end of 2009 unless benefits are extended.

Meanwhile, the Michigan State Senate continues to refuse to even hold hearings on measures that would make $138 million in federal support funds available to Michigan citizens who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The Michigan House has already approved the distribution of the federal funds, which will help families get back on their feet and laid-off workers get the retraining they need to get new 21st century jobs.

Eleven states with lower unemployment rates than Michigan have passed legislation that would qualify them for the funds that the Obama Administration had swiftly made available to the states to help their unemployed workers. The 11 states have also embraced extended benefits for retraining and worker assistance. They include Georgia, Iowa and Oregon.

The Michigan Senate has also refused to act on other measures that would bring relief to Michigan families, including closing unfair tax loopholes that do not create jobs or generate investments in local communities and strong government reform measures to increase accountability to citizens.


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