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Governor Rell, 21 Other Governors Urge Congress to Pass Unemployment Aid Extension


CONTACT: Adam Liegeot, 860-524-7313

September 18, 2009 


Governor M. Jodi Rell announced today that she has joined 21 other governors in urging top Congressional leaders to pass legislation that will extend unemployment benefits to Connecticut families struggling to find work amid the continuing economic slump.


“Unless Congress acts, we expect that more than 400,000 workers nationwide will exhaust their federal extended benefits by September with exhaustion rates expected to increase over the coming months,” Governor Rell and fellow governors said in a September 15 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Harry Reid, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We strongly urge immediate action to extend the vital unemployment insurance provisions contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), as well as an extension of additional emergency unemployment compensation benefits to help the long-term unemployed weather this economic storm.”


Governor Rell said that Connecticut’s unemployment rate has generally held steady in recent months in the range of 8 percent. However, economists believe overall unemployment has not yet “peaked” and may not do so until the second half of 2010.


“We can provide a vital lifeline to Connecticut workers who continue to search for new jobs,” Governor Rell said.  “The federal stimulus has sharply reduced the cost of continuing health benefits for Connecticut workers who lose their jobs.”


Under the federal law known as COBRA, workers who lose their jobs can elect to continue their health insurance but must pay the full cost – often far more than an unemployed person can afford.  Under the stimulus, the federal government is currently paying 65 percent of the COBRA premiums for unemployed individuals. This benefit is scheduled to end on December 31, and Governor Rell said Congress should extend it as well.


In August, Governor Rell asked the state’s Congressional delegation to work on passing the unemployment aid extension as well as a broader overhaul of the entire unemployment compensation system, saying the program must evolve with the changes in the nation’s economy and the shifting needs of the work force.


Governors' UI Extension Letter (September 15, 2009) (PDF, 561KB)

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