The National Association of State Workforce Agencies said in a
letter that some states may find the plan's verification
requirements too costly and onerous, and could try to opt out.
The bill's requirements "would cause considerable delays in the
implementation of the program and increased administrative issues
and costs," NASWA President Mark Henry said in the letter to Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch
The Senate is expected to vote in coming weeks on bipartisan
legislation to renew the jobless benefits for the first five months
of 2014 that would put an average of $300 per week into the hands of
long-term unemployed workers. The checks would be retroactive to
December 29, 2013.
For Boehner, whose House Republican caucus has shown little interest
in the extending unemployment benefits, the letter from the state
officials' group bolsters the case for opposing the Senate plan. He
said it was "cause for serious concern."
Boehner said Republicans would still look at an unemployment
benefits extension bill from Democrats that is "fiscally
responsible" and helps to create more private-sector jobs.
"There is no evidence that the bill being rammed through the Senate
by Leader Reid meets that test, and according to these state
directors, the bill is also simply unworkable," Boehner said in a
Reid's spokesman, Adam Jentleson said Democrats believe that
concerns raised by the state officials are "resolvable" and urged
Boehner to help craft solutions.
"It is hard to imagine Speaker Boehner simply walking away from the
thousands of people in Ohio who lost their jobs through no fault of
their own and need this lifeline to make ends meet while they
continue to look for work," Jentleson said.
[to top of second column]
The $10 billion cost of the Senate extension measure would be offset
by other savings, including allowing companies to apply accounting
procedures for pension contributions that would boost their profit,
resulting in increased federal revenue. It also contains a provision
that would prohibit payment of unemployment benefits to anyone who
has earned income of at least $1 million in the previous year.
Henry, who also serves as director of the Mississippi Department of
Employment Security, said the state workforce agencies were not
taking a position for or against the extended benefits but were
pointing out difficulties in the proposed legislation, including the
inability to verify whether beneficiaries met requirements that they
sought work during the first few months of 2014.
Under normal circumstances, beneficiaries report weekly on their job
search activities, but this has stopped in many states since the
checks stopped flowing in January.
Antiquated computers that cannot be quickly reprogrammed represent a
challenge and the "millionaire provision" is problematic because it
is based on income tax return data, which unemployment agencies do
not collect, Henry said.
Determining eligibility under this means-testing provision would
cost states money and the proposed legislation provides no federal
funds for this.
(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Matthew Lewis and David
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