July 15, 2003
LANSING – Some 53,000 of Michigan’s long-term unemployed could be in line for $206 million in additional jobless benefits under a first-time Worker Assistance Plan for Michigan as outlined by Governor Jennifer Granholm today.
Sponsored by Sen. Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. Barbara Farrah (D-Southgate) with overwhelming bipartisan support, the plan provides Michigan workers with additional unemployment benefits through the federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation-X (TEUC-X) program and the federal-state Extended Benefits (EB) program. TEUC-X provides eligible jobless workers with up to 13 additional weeks of federal benefits after they exhaust their first tier of TEUC benefits. The EB program provides up to 13 more weeks of combined federal and state-funded benefits.
“Today, we are taking steps to help workers who need it most,” Granholm said. “We are helping families meet their basic needs, such as food and shelter, while at the same time helping our economy. It’s a win-win situation for unemployed workers and the state.”
The Governor noted that in addition to providing desperately needed funds for unemployed workers, the two programs could generate up to a total of $9.8 million in new state revenue from income and sales taxes, including $5.2 million for the General Fund and $3.7 million for the School Aid Fund.
Sen. Brater said she is proud to be a part of helping unemployed workers. “It is important to extend every protection possible to Michigan workers during these difficult economic times,” said Sen. Brater, who introduced a bill in the Senate to initiate this program. “I’ve worked hard in the Senate to ensure that this issue would have bipartisan support. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the House to get this legislation passed so that unemployed workers in our state can get these additional benefits.”
Brater’s bill has 15 Republican and 15 Democratic co-sponsors.
Rep. Farrah, sponsor of the House bill, echoed the need to help
Michigan families who will benefit from the proposal. “I am extremely pleased to help those Michigan men and women who work hard and play by the rules, but still lost their jobs,” Rep. Farrah said. “This will help those workers take care of their families while stimulating the economy at the same time.”
Farrah’s bill has 15 Republican and 37 Democratic co-sponsors.
The Governor’s proposal would amend the state’s unemployment insurance law, allowing the state to trigger onto the TEUC-X and EB programs. The legislative change would temporarily allow Michigan to use an optional trigger-on mechanism based on the state’s total unemployment rate, which must average 6.5 percent or higher for three months. State law currently uses an insured unemployment rate to trigger onto EB and TEUC-X, but Michigan does not meet the trigger-on criteria.
This would mark the first time in Michigan history that the state has exercised this option to seek additional dollars for unemployed workers.
“With the support of state lawmakers, Michigan can qualify for these extra unemployment benefits without jeopardizing the state budget,” Granholm added. “I look forward to standing with the Senate and House leaders to sign this important legislation.”
Under the plan, the state would opt to join the TEUC-X program before EB payments are made, which is allowed under federal law. Jobless workers would qualify for the TEUC-X benefits if they have exhausted their TEUC benefits on or after the week ending May 24, 2003. Once jobless workers use up their TEUC-X benefits, they could qualify for additional weeks of federal-state extended benefits. Weekly TEUC-X and EB payments would be equal to what workers received in state unemployment benefits and for half the number of weeks.
“While this proposal would help many of Michigan’s jobless, it does not hurt our employers,” David Hollister, Director of Michigan’s Department of Consumer & Industry Services, said. “There will be no TEUC-X or EB benefit charges to Michigan employers.”
The proposal would sunset the law changes on December 27, 2003, which coincides with the ending of the TEUC and TEUC-X programs.
The Bureau of Workers’ & Unemployment Compensation would begin mailing benefit applications to those potentially eligible for TEUC-X immediately after the Governor signs the enacting legislation.