The Governor has vetoed a bill that would reduce the length of time a person can be on unemployment. The bill would drop the maximum length of time a person can receive those benefits from 20 weeks to 13.

Senators Mike Kehoe and Scott Fitzpatrick

Senators Mike Kehoe and Scott Fitzpatrick

In a press release, Governor Nixon says “Supporters of this bill have forgotten that workers earn these insurance benefits by working, and that tough economic times often last longer than a mere 13 weeks. Missouri’s unemployment insurance trust fund remains, and is projected to remain, financially sound.”

House bill sponsor Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) tells Missourinet the state has a recurring problem of running out of money in the unemployment trust fund during a recession.

“When you run out of money in your unemployment trust fund, you have to either borrow from the federal government to continue to pay unemployment benefits or you have to go out to the private market and issue credit instruments to finance your ongoing unemployment obligations,” said Fitzpatrick.  “Since this last recession was pretty significant, we ran out of money, like we have in each of the last five recessions. We are the only state who’s run out of money in each of the last five recessions and has had to borrow.”

Senate bill sponsor Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) says it’s important for people to be self-sufficient.

“Unemployment insurance is meant to be kind of a net for somebody to get from one job to the next. It’s not meant to be the next job,” said Kehoe.

He said he doesn’t want the unemployment trust fund to continue to dry up during a recession and be a liability to Missourians and businesses. “At one point in time we were $550 million in debt to the federal government because that’s how far out of whack the unemployment trust fund was.”

Fitzpatrick and Kehoe both believe there are enough votes in the House and Senate to override the veto.