A few state senators continue trying to run out the clock on a proposal to provide another 20 weeks of unemployment benefits for long-term jobless Missourians. They’re blocking a bill that would bring more than 80-milion dollars to the state for those benefits.
St. Louis Senator Jim Lembke argues the state chould not take the money as long as the federal deficit keeps growing.
Caulfield senator Chuck Purgason, who’s against the bill, says opponents are making erroneous points in suggesting the money should be used to balance the federal government. Purgason says the federal government has no interest in balancing the budget and reducing the federal deficit. He says it’s time to re-focus the issue. “Do we continue fighting on ground that or do we begin looking at the future and trying to prepare Missouri for future endeavors?” he asks. He tells Lembke that telling the federal government to keep the money and apply it to the national debt is like telling an alcoholic to take his one remaining beer and put it back in the refrigerator.
Purgason maintains the federal government has no interest in balancing the budget and paying off the debt.
The sponsor of the bill (HCS HB163), David Pearce of Warrensburg, says no other state has refused the money for this program. If the senate does not pass the bill today or tomorrow, Missouri loses the money and will not offer the additional 20 weeks.