Menendez Hails Passage Of Unemployment Insurance Extension, Federal Relief For State Budget

Menendez Hails Passage Of Unemployment Insurance Extension, Federal Relief For State Budget

Legislation continues financial and health care assistance for laid off workers, helps NJ State budget with estimated $570 million for medical program reimbursements

Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today hailed the Senate passage of the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act - legislation that includes an extension of Recovery Act federal unemployment insurance and COBRA health coverage benefits for laid off workers that will run until the end of the year. At a time when the New Jersey state government is challenged by its unemployment insurance trust fund, this legislation ensures that the federal government will continue to fully pay for 73 out of the 99 total weeks of unemployment insurance for which laid off workers are eligible.

In addition, the legislation includes a six-month extension of Recovery Act increased federal reimbursements to states, which is estimated to deliver $570 million in additional federal Medicaid matching funds.

"Providing a safety net for laid off workers keeps families afloat during these tough times, and economists cite it as one of the most effective recovery programs at our disposal," said Menendez. "As we continue to work to create new jobs, we are assisting those who have lost their jobs to stay on their feet. This is not only important for families feeling the squeeze and for the larger economy, but it is also important for the state as it deals with an unemployment insurance budget crunch. Recovery Act programs have helped take a financial burden of off our state at a time when its budget is extremely tight, and extending these programs will help continue to alleviate those pressures."

Background on unemployment insurance funding

Through the Recovery Act and other programs, the federal government provided the State of New Jersey with $3.5 billion for unemployment insurance programs between July 2008 and August 2009 - an amount that has only increased in the months since. Also as part of the Recovery Act, the state's loan to cover its unemployment insurance trust fund shortfall was made interest free. Through his work on the Senate Finance Committee, Menendez was able to include New Jersey on a list of 22 states that qualified for full Unemployment Insurance Modernization funds, which have totaled $206.8 million for the state.

Background on Medicaid matching funds

Through Feb 5, 2010, New Jersey received an additional $1.4 billion in increased federal Medicaid matching funds through Recovery Act Medicaid provisions. Over the remainder of the original Recovery Act period, it is estimated that New Jersey will receive nearly an additional $1.0 billion for a total benefit of $2.4 billion. The extension of the federal Medicaid matching funds would add $570 million.