Arizona lawmakers have been called to action by Governor, Jan Brewer, regarding the state’s unemployment insurance programs. The recession of 2008 has had long lasting consequences, leaving many people out of work and unable to afford any kind of insurance coverage.
Arizona’s program had been one of the few places where long-term unemployed individuals could find coverage. Brewer has been an advocate for the program, but the state’s Legislature has repeatedly failed to make changes that would expand the program to include more people.
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Brewer proposed measures that would extend coverage to as many as 45,000 families in Arizona who currently have no insurance. Her bill also would have ensured that the $3.5 million the state receives in federal funding for the program each week would be used to stimulate the local economy and add to the job market. The proposal was unable to garner support from lawmakers, however, and despite calling a special session of the Legislature, Brewer’s bill collapsed.
Because legislators have not made any changes to the existing program, a number of unemployed workers’ benefits will end next week. The lack of support seems to stem from the fact that the state’s unemployment program was never intended to provide long-term coverage to so many people. Arizona’s unemployment rate has remained at a steady 9% for several months. The longer people stay unemployed but continue to collect benefits from the government, the sooner the program’s funds will run dry.