Posts Tagged ‘unemployment benefits’

Federal Unemployment Program To Expire In January

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:39 pm November 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A federal emergency unemployment benefit program will expire on Jan. 2, cutting off about 25,000 Nevadans from the program, a state agency reported today.

The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program will expire unless Congress votes to extend the federal benefits as it has done in the past, said Renee Olson, administrator of the Employment Security Division of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

As a result, about 25,000 Nevadans currently receiving EUC will be abruptly cut off and each week another 1,000 claimants who are receiving regular unemployment, (which allows for a maximum of 26 weeks), will exhaust their benefits and not be able to move to the EUC program, Olson said.

However, claimants should continue to file their weekly claims so that benefits can be paid as quickly as possible if Congress does vote in favor of extending the EUC program, she added. There are nearly 32,000 people on the regular unemployment benefits program in Nevada.

“The last week payable for EUC benefits is December 29, 2012, which means those claimants on EUC will stop receiving benefits, even if they still have balances remaining on their claims,” Olson said. “In the past, claimants have been allowed to continue receiving benefits through the end of the tier they were in.”

Congress first enacted the federal benefits package in June 2008 in response to record high unemployment. Claimants currently qualify for a maximum of 73 weeks. In July of this year, the State Extended Benefits program ended, dropping the number of weeks from 99 to 79, then in September, six more weeks were cut, dropping the maximum weeks from 79 to 73.

Nevada’s unemployment rate is below its peak of 14 percent hit in October of 2010, but remains in double-digits as of October at 11.5 percent.

DETR Director Frank R. Woodbeck said the department is remaining diligent in its efforts to offer innovative training programs that will lead to positive employment outcomes for Nevada’s job seekers.

“We understand the severity of this situation and sympathize with our citizens who are still having a difficult time finding employment,” Woodbeck said. “I want to encourage these Nevadans to visit their nearest Nevada JobConnect office so that our counselors can assist them with job placement and training needs as they pursue gainful employment.

DETR Director Frank Woodbeck.

“Additionally, DETR is working tirelessly with the Governor’s Office on Economic Development and other partners to explore every opportunity to bring more industries to the state, while also creating training programs that will assist our job seekers in being prepared for a more diverse business environment,” he said.

Information on local support services may be obtained by calling 211; this is a centralized number for social support service directories.

Claimants are encouraged to visit DETR for updates on the status of the EUC program, as representatives in Telephone Claims Centers won’t be able to answer questions or provide any further information, Olson said.

Nevada’s GOP House Reps Disappointed At Short-Term Deal On Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefit Extension

By Sean Whaley | 7:55 pm December 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s two Republican House representatives today said politics won out over policy on the newly announced deal for a 60-day extension on a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extension.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said: “I will apologize in advance for what people are going to be going through 60 days from now because we have resolved nothing. And I predict the discussion 60 days from now will not only mirror this one, but you will also have a large revenue package which will be a condition to approving any sort of extensions for a year or two years.

“Nothing has changed, and it’s sad,” Amodei said. “We have done nobody any favors. As many commentators have said, you’re right on the policy but you’re wrong on the politics. Hopefully there will be a day when the policy rules the roost and not the politics but that’s probably a naive thing too.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said he was prepared to remain in Washington to reach a long-term solution to the extensions.

Courtesy of Kmccoy via Wikimedia Commons.

“The whole time my primary concern was making sure that we had a one-year extension for the folks back home,” he said. “That was the No. 1 priority. And it seems that in typical Washington fashion that politics trumped out over doing the right thing.

“I don’t think folks back home should suffer because Washington wants to get home for the holidays,” Heck said. “I made no secret about my desire to stay and get the job done. I’ve been away from my family; I’ve been deployed over the holidays; it’s not fun. But doing the right thing isn’t always fun or easy.”

Despite his disappointment at the short-term fix, Heck said Congress worked collaboratively in approving the Defense Authorization Act, and he has confidence in the House conferees appointed to work on a more permanent solution to the tax cut and unemployment benefit extension by a Feb. 29, 2012 deadline.

Heck said that if the Senate sends over members who are willing to look at the policy reforms approved by the House in its Dec. 13 bill, “that we will be able to come to a conclusion hopefully by the end of January.”

Both Amodei and Heck are now back in Nevada for a recess that will run through mid-January.

Amodei said he is still in the process of assessing the deal announced earlier today that will lead to the House endorsement of the Senate measure to extend the tax cut and unemployment benefits. Amodei said he plans to issue a formal statement tomorrow after he is confident about the details of the deal.

The House may be able to approve the Senate legislation by a process called unanimous consent, which will not require House members to return to Washington, DC, for a formal vote.

The deal means the continuation of both a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and a 99-week unemployment benefit for two million jobless Americans.

Other comments on the deal came from President Obama and other members of Nevada’s representatives in Congress.

President Obama issued a statement that said in part: “This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives.”

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who supported the 60-day extension, said: “I am pleased the House is moving forward with the Senate’s bipartisan compromise. Extending the payroll tax and unemployment insurance will benefit Nevadans greatly. Now that Congress has moved beyond this impasse, we can work on a year-long extension.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said: “I am grateful that the voices of reason have prevailed and Speaker (John) Boehner has agreed to pass the Senate’s bipartisan compromise.

“Year-long extensions of the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and Medicare payments for physicians has always been our goal, and Democrats will not rest until we have passed them,” he said. “But there remain important differences between the parties on how to implement these policies, and it is critical that we protect middle-class families from a tax increase while we work them out.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. said: “While its good news this massive middle class tax hike has been averted, this is one more example of why Washington doesn’t work. This should have been a no-brainer, but instead Tea Party Republicans held Nevada’s middle class families hostage to their extreme Wall Street agenda. The middle class should not be a bargaining chip for DC political games.”


Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., says the deal resolves nothing:

122211Amodei1 :32 or two years.”

Amodei says he believes a large revenue package will be part of the next round of discussions:

122211Amodei2 :27 naive thing too.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., says his goal all along was a one-year deal:

122211Heck1 :15 the right thing.”

Heck says Congress should have got the job done:

122211Heck2 :14 fun or easy.”

Heck says he is hopeful the conference committee will reach a deal by the end of January:

122211Heck3 :32 month of March.”


Rep. Mark Amodei Says House Republicans Will Reject Short-Term Senate Payroll Tax, Jobless Benefit Fix

By Sean Whaley | 9:09 pm December 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said today that Republicans in the House do not believe a 60-day stopgap response to expiring tax breaks and unemployment benefits as approved by the Senate is a workable solution.

Amodei, in a telephone interview this evening with the Nevada News Bureau, said the temporary fix is unworkable for the business community and creates too much uncertainty that could threaten job creation efforts. Congress needs to approve legislation resolving these issues for a full year, he said.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

As a result of the concerns, Republicans in the House are going to reject the Senate version of a compromise bill approved Saturday to extend jobless benefits and ensure a payroll tax break continues for 160 million working Americans, Amodei said.

The House passed a bill addressing the issues earlier this month that would resolve the issues for a full year.

“Why would you put people through this again 60 days later?” he asked.

The result will be to send the two different versions of the payroll tax and unemployment benefit fix to a conference committee to resolve differences, Amodei said. Whether the Senate returns to the Capitol to work on a compromise bill remains to be seen, he said.

If a compromise is not reached by the end of the year, working Americans will see a payroll tax hike, and five million unemployed workers will face a loss of jobless benefits starting Jan. 1.

Amodei, elected in September to fill out the term of now-U.S. Sen. Dean Heller in Congressional District 2, arrived home Saturday only to turn around and fly back to Washington, DC, on Sunday, to take up the issues. Amodei has not yet served 100 days in office.

The Senate, after voting to amend the House bill to deal with the issues for two months, has adjourned.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said the Senate won’t negotiate further until the House passes the 60-day extension.

In a statement, Reid said: “Speaker (John) Boehner should allow an up-or-down vote on the compromise that Senator McConnell and I negotiated at Speaker Boehner’s request, and which was supported by 89 Republican and Democratic senators.

“With millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet, it would be unconscionable for Speaker Boehner to block a bipartisan agreement that would protect middle-class families from the thousand-dollar tax increase looming on January first,” he said. “It is time for Speaker Boehner to follow through.”

But Amodei said House Republicans want to follow the proper procedure to iron out differences in the conflicting versions of the legislation. That means a conference committee, he said.

“By the way, yes, it does happen to be December, but . . . the issues are important enough, you need to work on them until you get it worked out,” Amodei said. “And by the way, you haven’t got a heck of a lot of time, and yes, there is Christmas and New Years in there, but so be it.”

Amodei said the House is expected to vote to take the Senate version of the bill to the rules committee for its review. The full House will then vote Tuesday to appoint its representatives to a conference committee.

“This is going to be an interesting thing to see whether or not policy prevails or politics prevails,” he said.

There are other concerns with the Senate version of the bill as well, including the proposal to charge a fee on Federal Housing Authority loans to help pay for the expense of the extended benefits and tax cuts, which would be a particularly hard hit on Nevada’s real estate industry, Amodei said.

The House bill also set the number of weeks of federal unemployment to 57, and allowed for means testing for unemployment and food stamps for the wealthy as a state option, he said. It also put in a pay freeze on federal employees and members of Congress to help pay for it, another provision that did not survive in the Senate version.

“Another two-month extension is another exercise in, can you hold your breath for another two months if you are a senior, if you are a veteran, if you’re an employer, if you work for wages or if you are on unemployment,” Amodei said. “I mean, I just think it is absolutely tone deaf to the reality of people looking for work, people who are working, seniors, veterans, home buyers. I mean, it’s like how can you talk about this with a straight face.

“The Senate’s amendment was amending the bill in whole, and basically kept everything the same except made it 60 days, and you’re like, what is the magic in 60 days?”

Nevada’s Republican representatives in Congress are not in complete agreement on how to proceed. Heller, R-Nev., voted for the two-month extension in the Senate.

“There is no question we need to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the entire year,” he said. “The American people deserve long-term, forward-thinking policies. However, there is no reason to hold up the short-term extension while a more comprehensive deal is being worked out.

“What is playing out in Washington, DC, this week is about political leverage, not about what’s good for the American people,” Heller said.


Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says the Senate needs to work with the House to resolve the issues:

121911Amodei1 :15 so be it.”

Amodei says another two-month extension does not deal with the realities being faced by Americans:

121911Amodei2 :26 a straight face.”

Amodei asks what is the magic in 60 days:

121911Amodei3 :11 in 60 days.”



Nevada May Save $66 Million Under Obama Proposal

By Andrew Doughman | 2:05 pm February 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada state legislators may catch a break under a debt-relief proposal from President Barack Obama.

Obama has proposed deferring interest payments on money the states have borrowed to pay unemployment insurance benefits.

The federal government began to charge interest on those loans this past month. Gov. Brian Sandoval included $66 million in his proposed budget to cover the 4 percent interest Nevada would owe during the next two years.

Suspending interest payments would mean the governor appropriated $66 million to make payments that the state would no longer owe during this budget session. Legislators would be able to redirect the $66 million to restore cuts Sandoval proposed, or they could cut it from the budget, reducing state spending.

Obama has yet to release his proposed budget, but the Washington Post reports that the plan has a catch.

Starting in 2014, the proposal would require states to increase the portion of workers’ wages subject to the unemployment insurance tax from $7,000 to $15,000. This is a tax that employers pay.

The proposed moratorium on interest payments does not appear to cancel any debt outright.

Nevada’s unemployment benefits reserves were $757.5 million during August, 2008, but the state quickly drained these funds as the recession worsened.

Nevada now owes the federal government $645 million for the money it borrowed to pay out unemployment benefits.

Nevada’s unemployment rate is still the highest in the nation at 14.5 percent, and the fund currently pays out regular unemployment benefits to 50,000 Nevadans.

Following a meeting today, Sandoval said it is to early to comment on the proposal because he has not analyzed the long-term effect of the plan.

Fiscal Expert Says State Governments In Big Trouble

By Sean Whaley | 4:10 pm August 6th, 2010

CARSON CITY – State governments across the country are facing budget deficits and a tough economy right now, but failure to get a handle on long-term liabilities, from unfunded pensions to subsidized health care for retired workers, could jeopardize any recovery, a fiscal expert said today.

Bob Williams, founder and senior fellow of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and a member of the ALEC board of scholars, said states may have to deal with decades of budget challenges due to employee and retiree medical costs and pension payments.

Williams spoke about these and other challenges in a teleconference from San Diego, where he is attending the American Legislative Exchange Conference (ALEC) annual meeting. Williams said a focus of the meeting will be offering practical solutions to member lawmakers from across the country on how to get a handle on these issues.

Nevada is one of many states facing these challenges.

Nevada’s public employee pension system had a long-term unfunded liability of $9.1 billion as of June 30, 2009, according to the officials who manage the program. Some independent reports suggest the liability is much higher.

The Nevada Legislature in 2009 made some modest reforms to the pension system for new hires, but the long-term liability is already on the books for current public employees when they retire.

Williams said many states mask the real extent of these liabilities using a variety of techniques, such as assuming a higher rate of returns on investments than is realistic.

“But the real crisis coming up is the unfunded retiree health care costs,” he said.

Nevada subsidizes health insurance coverage for retired state employees and their dependents.

A 2008 study commissioned by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce estimated the cost of providing the subsidized care at $4 billion over 30 years. The state has not invested money to pay this benefit, instead using a “pay as you go” approach.

The chamber warned that failure to make major changes to the benefit will mean a shift away from funding programs such as education to pay the rising retiree health care costs. The cost of the program in 2008 was under $50 million a year.

Other budget challenges are the states’ reliance on federal stimulus funds to balance their budgets in the current and prior fiscal years, and the need to repay billions borrowed from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits, Williams said. Employers will see likely see tax hikes to repay the unemployment loans, although such moves could run many out of business, he said.

Nevada is expected to borrow as much as $1 billion to pay unemployment benefits through the end of the current recession. The state has borrowed over $450 million already.

Williams said many governors across the nation are working on the assumption that the Obama Administration will forgive the loans to states for unemployment benefits.

Williams said federal stimulus funds allowed states to spend at a higher level than they otherwise would have. But when the funding stops, states must continue the spending under “maintenance of effort” requirements.

The anticipated loss of federal stimulus funds for future budgets is a major factor in Nevada’s anticipated $3 billion-plus revenue shortfall for the upcoming two-year budget.

State government economies are not expected to recover until two years after their private sector economies recover, he said.

But the situation may be even more dire, Williams said. He cited a March U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress that suggests the fiscal position of state and local governments will steadily decline through 2060, primarily due to health care costs.

The GAO report says: “The decline in the sector’s operating balance is primarily driven by rising health care costs. The fiscal challenges confronting the state and local sector add to the nation’s overall fiscal difficulties. Because most state and local governments are required to balance their operating budgets, the declining fiscal conditions shown in GAO’s simulations suggest the fiscal pressures the sector faces and the extent to which these governments will need to make substantial policy changes to avoid growing imbalances.”

Jobless Benefits For Thousands Of Unemployed Nevadans Set To Resume With Approval Of Extension

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:39 am July 23rd, 2010

CARSON CITY – Thousands of unemployed Nevadans will soon see their jobless benefits restored with final Congressional approval Thursday of a six-month extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program.

There are currently about 93,670 people receiving unemployment benefits in Nevada, according to the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR). The number of individuals who are affected by the May expiration of EUC and State Extended Benefits (SEB) programs continue to grow as well. There are nearly 40,000 people who have lost their benefits since the EUC and SEB programs expired.

The EUC extension signed by President Obama on Thursday will last through November. The mid-term general election is Nov. 2.

Nevada’s unemployment rate hit 14.2 percent in June, a new record for the state. About 193,000 Nevadans are looking for work.

Approval means up to 73 weeks of federal jobless benefits for the unemployed who have already exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits. The measure will cost $34 billion nationwide.

“The department continues proactive work and planning in order to restart benefits as soon as possible after the EUC programs are reinstated,” said DETR Deputy Director Cynthia Jones. “We have carefully staged our systems to ensure their ability to handle the accurate processing of claims; and with the help of our claimants in following the plan, benefits will be paid in an efficient and expedient manner.”

The department has continued accepting EUC applications to help the process move more quickly in anticipation of the bill passing, said Jones, who also serves as administrator of the Employment Security Division.

“There are some things in this legislation that require interpretation and instructions for program implementation as the bill contains other provisions that impact unemployment programs, on top of reinstating the Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs,” she said.

Within seven to ten days of the bill passage, claimants will start receiving letters stating they are on the list of individuals potentially eligible to receive extended benefits, Jones said. The letters will have specific instructions to prevent claimants from waiting unnecessarily on the phone lines. Claimants are asked to refrain from calling telephone claim centers until they receive this notification in the mail, signaling that their claim has been automatically reopened; the new funds have been added and that the agency is now ready for their weekly claims to be filed.

“We are asking for the public’s cooperation so that these much needed benefits can be paid out as soon as possible,” she said.

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., was one of 31 Republicans in the House who supported the program’s restoration.

Heller said he voted for the bill despite failing to get the Democratic majority to support an amendment to use unobligated stimulus funds to pay for the benefits.

“Nevadans across the state are struggling to get by,” he said. “While I believe that this legislation should have been paid for, I do not believe the unemployed should be held accountable for the failed economic policies of the Administration and this Congress.

“There are ways to pay for this extension, and help the unemployed, without contributing to the deficit,” Heller said.