State Capitol News
4:37 am
Tue April 7, 2009

Stimulus extends unemployment benefits

Phoenix, AZ – Governor Jan Brewer is going to ask state lawmakers to extend
financial help for people who have exhausted their unemployment
benefits but have not yet found a job.

State law generally makes individuals eligible for up to 26 weeks
of benefits. The federal stimulus package approved in February
included a provision for an extra 13 weeks, paid for entirely by
the federal government. But Brewer balked because she feared that
once the federal money dries up at the end of the year, the state
would be stuck with the bill. Gubernatorial press aide Paul
Senseman said her concerns have now been alleviated.

"It appears as though there are no negative impacts on the state
budget to accept these federal funds. So the governor's going to
communicate with legislative leaders about her desire to receive
these funds from the federal government and put them to good
use."

Republican Sen. Jay Tibshraeny said the move makes sense.

"It's a no-brainer pretty much. That's what the money's intended
to do. They shipped it down to the states. We should utilize that
money to help that vulnerable population."

House Democratic leader David Lujan agreed.

"Experience shows that when people get these benefits they tend
to put them right back into the economy fairly quick. So these
are dollars that can help to stimulate the economy in pretty
immediate terms."

Brewer's decision comes as the number of Arizonans getting
jobless benefits hit a new record of more than 104,000 -- about
three times as much as a year earlier.