Tag Archives: unfunded

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.

Lamar to Legislators: Feds Should Do All of Medicaid

Sen. Lamar Alexander says the federal government should be fully responsible for Medicaid, which provides health care for the poor, WPLN reports, and he’s willing to make a trade.
Alexander floated the idea during a speech to the state’s General Assembly. Most of Alexander’s address was about how he trusts states to handle programs more than the federal government. But not Medicaid. And he says now is the time for Washington to take full control, as states are considering whether to expand the program as envisioned under Obamacare.
“There’s a lot of attention on how the Medicaid program is bankrupting states and how it would be better run if either the federal government or the state government ran it. Right now it’s got two bosses, and you’ve got rules made in Washington. Then the state has to carry out the rules and carry out a significant part of it.”
Alexander calls his proposal a “Grand Swap.” The federal government would take over Medicaid and states would become fully responsible for funding K-through-12 education.


See similar stories on Alexander’s proposal, first made some 30 years ago, in The Tennessean and the Chattanooga TFP.

Note: The text of Alexander’s remarks is below.

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