Tag Archives: matlock

Bill Cuts Unemployment Benefits for Jobless With Dependents

Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation to slash dependent benefits for unemployed Tennesseans as a way to rein in a program that was expanded in 2009 under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, reports The Tennessean.
The bill (HB639), which cleared a key House committee with little resistance on Tuesday, would save the state an estimated $62.5 million annually, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor. Those savings are necessary, supporters say, because $141 million in federal funds given to the state under the stimulus have run out, and Tennessee employers have had to pick up the bill.
A Democratic leader in the House called the proposal a bad bill that would hurt the unemployed in the state. But Republican leadership, including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, said the state was fixing what amounted to an unfunded mandate.
Consideration of the bill comes one week after the Department of Labor’s unemployment benefits program was blistered in a state audit that found fraud and mismanagement that “threatened the integrity” of the unemployment benefits system.
“This is the very definition of an unfunded mandate,” said state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, adding that the state needed to halt the expanded benefits in order to preserve the health of the unemployment insurance fund. “Experts say there’s no way our fund could withstand another recession.”
Under current state law, unemployed workers receive $15 per week for each dependent, with a cap of $50 per week, in addition to their regular unemployment check. The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, and in the Senate by Ramsey and Johnson, would end such dependent benefits.
Unemployment checks for individuals are capped at $275 per week. A family with four or more dependents receives an additional $50 each week.
The bill cleared the House Consumer and Human Resources committee Tuesday with a voice vote, though Democrats such as Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, expressed their opposition.

Perry Collects TN Cash, Pitches Presidential Credentials

About 150 people paid a minimum of $1,000 to attend a fundraising breakfast for Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas in Knoxville. Host committee members paid $2,500 each to his presidential campaign.
He also had fundraising events in Memphis and the Nashville area (where the crowd was said to be about 200.).
More on the Knoxville stop from the News Sentinel:
U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. was in attendance. So was Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who endorsed Perry as his presidential candidate of choice last summer.
“We feel like he (Perry) has this ‘it’ factor we need to take this country to the next level,” said Ramsey.
Media was not allowed in for the fundraiser, but Perry hammered home a familiar message of jobs, jobs and more jobs in an impromptu press conference held behind the Fox Den Clubhouse.
“(It’s about) jobs and how to get America working again,” Perry said.
“If we talk about anything other than that, that’s a diversion. Until we have an economy in this country that’s growing, nothing else really matters. We’ve got to get rid of Obamacare and all of the regulations that are killing us.”
Perry said he’ll use Texas as a model for creating jobs by lowering the tax burden and getting government off the backs of small businesses: “For the last 10 years in Texas, we’ve created a job machine.”
Robert Black, Perry’s travel press secretary, said he anticipates jobs to continue to be the focus of the campaign.
“In coming weeks you’ll probably see the governor put out some major policy initiatives centered on jobs — which is on everybody’s mind,” Black said.
Like Haynes, Knoxville businessman and state Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, gave rave reviews to Perry’s grasp of the issues and his down-home style.
“I was very impressed and loved his energy,” said Matlock, who said he
will likely vote for Perry, Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain.
Matlock said Perry came across nothing like the “stiff” candidate he has sometimes been portrayed as during debates.
“He is so engaging,” said Matlock. “Today, he was just so refreshing.”
After spending less than two hours in Knoxville, the Perry campaign headed off to fundraisers in three other states.
Just before his departure, at the end of the short press conference, Perry was heckled by two unidentified people with video cameras.
They told him to stay in Texas, but Perry informed them he would be coming back to Tennessee many times in the coming months.
“Tennessee is very important,” the Texas governor said. “If you look back, Tennessee has been one of them (the states) that has made the difference — it’s a swing state.”

Democrats Bash GOP ‘Playing Politics’ on Jobs

News release from Tennessee Democratic party:
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called out Republican lawmakers Thursday for being “out of touch with reality” on growing the state economy and assisting Tennessee’s 300,000 job seekers.
“We don’t have a shortage of work ethic in Tennessee, we have a shortage of work. We have roads and bridges to fix, safe energy to harness, and schools to rebuild,” Forrester said. “Instead of playing politics and mocking people who have lost their jobs by no fault of their own, Republicans should want to work with Democrats in finding ways to make Tennessee work again for Tennesseans.”
In August, Wacker Chemie, a Germany-based company that former Gov. Phil Bredesen recruited to set up in Bradley County, reportedly accepted 10,000 applications for 130 positions.
Forrester’s statement comes after a comment made Thursday by Republican state Rep. Jimmy Matlock. Matlock said Tennessee’s 306,000 job seekers weren’t actually looking for work because they have no incentive to find a job.
“We’re making it too easy,” Matlock said in reference to the extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. (Note: Rick Locker’s story containing the quote HERE.)
In Tennessee, the maximum unemployment insurance benefit is $1,100 a month or less. That’s at the poverty line.
“The truth is Tennesseans want to work, and Democrats won’t rest until every Tennessean who wants to work has a job,” Forrester said. “Irresponsible comments like the one from Mr. Matlock just reaffirm how out of touch with reality Republicans have become.”
On Wednesday Democratic members of the state House and Senate announced a six-day jobs tour across the state Sept. 19-24 to talk to business owners, local officials and the public about how to best grow jobs in Tennessee.
Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris accused his Democratic colleagues of using the tour for politics.
“That’s a rich accusation coming from Sen. Norris considering his party killed a dozen Democratic jobs bills this year and did absolutely nothing on their own to grow the economy,” Forrester said. “Sen. Norris and Gov. Bill Haslam are obviously waiting for Santa to leave jobs under the tree this Christmas.
“Republicans continue to sit on their hands and call it leadership,” Forrester said. “It’s past time Republicans stopped complaining about the government, and started focusing on running it well.”