Some benefits not worth expanding

Published 10:53 pm Friday, February 5, 2010

Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, spoke out against a bill pending in the Alabama Senate that he said would grant the state a one-time payment of $100.5 million from the federal government and require the state to expand unemployment benefits permanently.

“This legislative proposal, if passed, would result in an annual $42 million tax obligation for Alabama’s employers,” Mitchell said.

With rural areas being hit the hardest, Alabama’s unemployment rate reached a 26-year high in December.

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Although Pike County held strong with the states fourth lowest rate, Mitchell expressed some concern over the rising number.

“Record unemployment has strained the Alabama Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund to the point that employers are now paying into the fund at the highest rate possible.”

Mitchell criticized the longevity of the plan saying it would hurt the state in the long run.

“Those of us in the senate who understand the importance of viable small and large businesses in our respective communities do not want to see employers further burdened by a federal handout that is temporary,” he said. “When the federal money runs out, the state and our employers must continue picking up the tab.”

Mitchell said the rising amount of unemployment compensation is making it difficult for businesses to hire employees.

“Our state’s employers are eager to hire back Alabamians who are presently out of work. The pending senate legislation is counterproductive to creating such jobs.”

The senator said that he would vote against the bill should it come to the floor of the senate.