July 21, 2011
Republican Inaction Stops Unemployment Benefits For Milwaukee
Redistricting A Precedent Over Working Families; Senate GOP Struggles With Votes
(MADISON) Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee), Senate Ranking Member of the Joint Committee on Finance, today expressed her outrage at the Republican majority of the Legislature which has been unable to govern and develop a majority position on the unemployment benefits extension. Taylor, who hails from Milwaukee, a city with one of the highest unemployment rates for African-American men in the country, blasted the failure of Republicans to provide the extended benefits that are needed to feed working families all across Milwaukee.
“Republicans spent months developing redistricting maps to maintain their power and paid absolutely no attention to the needs of the unemployed who have been without benefits since April! Children and families across Milwaukee depend on unemployment insurance benefits for the basic needs of life,” noted Taylor. “The Republicans posturing on an amendment to guarantee benefits immediately upon eligibility is damming the flow of these dollars from reaching working families in Milwaukee.”
Senate Bill 147 authorizes extended unemployment insurance benefits for workers with funding from the federal government. Republicans knew of the needed legislative action to extend these benefits since April, yet chose to do nothing until almost two and half months later. On Tuesday, the Senate approved that bill and an amendment to repeal the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits that was adopted in the budget. The Assembly Republicans rejected that amendment repealing the one-week waiting period on Wednesday. Because of the differences between the houses, the benefits that working people should be receiving are dead on the desk of the Senate.
“Republicans are proving that they cannot govern. People, Republicans and Democrats alike, are out of work, and depend on the compact the government made with them to be able to claim and receive unemployment benefits.” Taylor commented. “Republicans should pass this bill immediately with the Senate amendment included and honor the compact Wisconsin has made with its working men and women. Republicans in the Senate have passed this bill once, it is up to them to show the leadership that is demanded by Wisconsin or they will reap the electoral loss for disregarding the needs of workers in our state.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has the power to reconvene the Senate immediately and reiterate the Senate position. This morning, the Senate met in skeletal session and adjourned to Tuesday, providing at least another four day delay in unemployment benefits. While Fitzgerald called on Democrats to approve the bill without the Senate amendment after the skeletal session, it is widely believed that Fitzgerald does not have the votes among his own Republicans to remove the repeal of the one-week waiting period.