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Governor Rell Celebrates Action by U.S. Senate on Key Unemployment Benefits

Governor Had Urged Senate to Act Before Holidays


For immediate release
December 20, 2009

CONTACT: Rich Harris, 860-299-6237

rich.harris@ct.gov

 

Governor M. Jodi Rell today hailed passage by the U.S. Senate of legislation that extends unemployment benefits and helps those who recently lost their job continue health insurance. Governor Rell wrote Senate leadership this week to urge them to make certain the bill was passed before lawmakers left Washington, D.C., for the holidays.

 

“This bill was critical to the continued safety and welfare of the thousands of Connecticut residents caught up in the terrible effects of the global economic downturn,” Governor Rell said. “As I said in my letter to Senate leaders, it would have been a tragedy to allow urgently needed benefits to expire at the end of the year. I am pleased the Senate acted when they did and that these lifelines will continue for hard-pressed Connecticut families and their counterparts around the nation.”

 

Governor Rell last week expressed her concerns to Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, with copies to Connecticut Sens. Christopher Dodd and Joe Lieberman.

 

 “Too many families in Connecticut and the rest of America have already felt the effect of this downturn far too keenly and far too personally,” Governor Rell said. “As difficult as it might seem to make matters worse, allowing these important support systems to languish would have done just that.”

 

The $636.3 billion Defense Appropriations Bill was approved by the Senate on Saturday by a vote of 88-10. The bill had passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. It contains key emergency relief measures: a two-month extension in unemployment benefits and continued federal support for “COBRA coverage” – a program that allows laid-off employees to continue purchasing their employer-sponsored health care coverage. Under the program, the federal government picks up 65 percent of the cost of obtaining COBRA coverage.

 

Over the past few months, Governor Rell has recommended to the Connecticut Congressional delegation many proposals for unemployment relief for Congress to consider: Those proposals include:

  • Stimulus funds to states to replenish their Unemployment Trust Funds

  • Full federal funding of extended unemployment benefits for an additional year to December 31, 2010

  • Extend by one year interest-free federal loans to states until December 31, 2011 for Unemployment Trust Funds 

  • Extend the filing date for emergency unemployment compensation an additional year to Dec 31, 2010

  • Delay by one year (until 2012) mandatory tax increases in the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) that all employers must pay to support the unemployment insurance program. Under federal law, tax increases are required when a state has outstanding Trust Fund loans for two years.

Media contact: Nancy Steffens  (860) 263-6535


200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT 06109 / Phone: 860-263-6000

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