Gov. Rick Snyder cut unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. Michigan is the first state to sign a bill that would impact the jobless like this during a time of especially high unemployment.
He says in a release that he signed the bill to take the unemployed off the state’s ticket, and pass on the responsibility to the federal government:
When a state no longer qualifies for extended benefits, federal law requires a three-week phase-out period after which no extended benefits can be paid. During the phase-out, any new extended benefit claims were charged 50 percent federal 50 percent state employer charges. Under Michigan’s new law, these charges are eliminated. Any employer charged 50 percent during this period soon will receive credit.
AP reports that many lawmakers think this isn’t in the best interest of the state, and that it could have a negative effect on the way the federal government currently distributes benefits. Quoting one lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Sander Levin:
Gov. Snyder’s decision to sign this reckless measure cutting the lifeline for Michigan’s unemployed will reverberate for years in Michigan … Republicans hijacked a simple technical change to extend 100 percent federally funded benefits this year and gave Michigan the dubious distinction of becoming the only state in the union with 20 weeks of state unemployment insurance.