Long-time unemployed Missourians might not have to wait much longer for their unemployment checks.
The House has accepted a compromise worked out in the Senate and approved a measure that allows Missouri to draw down $105 million in federal funds to extend unemployment benefits an additional 20 weeks. Rep. Barney Fisher, a Republican from Richards, reminded colleagues during House floor debate that the bill left the House February 1st only to become a focal point in four senators’ filibuster that railed against federal government spending, equating accepting the money to adding to the federal debt.
Unemployment benefits to approximately 10,000 Missourians ended April 2nd. If Governor Nixon accepts SS SCS HCS HB 163, those benefits can begin again.
House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, a Democrat from Kansas City, questioned Fisher about accepting a compromise that reduces the time the state provides unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20.
“Just so I have this right, the 26 to 20 weeks is the reduction that the lunatic fringe over in the Senate had to take to be able to get this money out and actually have the bill not filibustered and get them sit down, correct?” Talboy asked Fisher.
Fisher questioned the use of the term “lunatic fringe”, but replied that that was the compromise needed to pry the bill from the Senate and return it to the House. Fisher indicated that if the House changed the measure and sent it back, the money for those long-term unemployed Missourians would be lost.
One major issue remains unresolved, according to Fisher, who called it the 900 pound gorilla in the room. He said the Senate stripped the provision that would have used state-issued bonds to pay off a $900 million debt the state owes the federal government unemployment insurance fund. Fisher warned the issue wasn’t going away.