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Lawmakers Approve Changes To Jobless Benefits

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unemployment claim 4-16-10

LANSING (WWJ/AP) - State lawmakers have reached agreement on legislation that will extend benefits to thousands of Michigan’s unemployed residents.

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick says Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the legislation  But, future recipients won’t have as long to find a new job.

Lawmakers cut it close, Wednesday, but were able to extend federal unemployment benefits before the clock ran out on thousands of Michigan’s jobless.

“Lawmakers met the deadline by just one day, as they extended these benefits for about 150,000 folks who unfortunatly don’t have a job,” Skubick said.

“But, Republicans in the legislature… they did a little something different. For those people who end up on unempolyment next year, instead of getting 26 weeks, they will be down to 20 weeks,” he said.

The Michigan Senate approved the plan 24-13, while the House supported it on a 65-44 vote.

Republicans say the new rules save Michigan businesses – which pay for unemployment compensation – about $600 million a year, while cracking down on fraud.

“This isn’t about being pro-business for the sake of pro-business  By being pro-business is good for all the ciitzens of Michigan, because, by enabling busniesses to have more money to spend on employeee, we all get to work and we all get our jobs,” said Republican State Senator Pat Colbeck of Canton.

Democrats, however, say the legislation hurts workers and the economy.

“This is three weeks less money going back into our economy — for groceries, gas and prescriptions.  This is prime example of Republicans misrepresenting their actions,” said Democratic state Senator Glenn Anderson of Westland.

“With this legislation, they’re using the federal extention as a trogen horse, the ulimatly hurt Michigan’s unemployed into the future,” Anderson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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