Missouri says "NO" to continuation of extended benefits program for unemployed

The situation here made Thursday TMs edition of the New York Times.

Missouri is first in the nation to say "no" to a continuation of the extended benefits program for people out of work.

The state has notified more than 9,000 people that their benefits are being cut off.

The national media has picked up on Senator Jim Lembke's continuing filibuster against legislation that would allow Missouri to remain in the extended unemployment benefits program until the end of the year.

"I think 99 weeks is too long, Republican Senator Jim Lembke of St. Louis said. I think it's important that Missouri take a stand with other states and say to the federal government, 'quit sending us money you don't have. Quit putting our children and grandchildren into debt'."

The legislature's failure to act means the division of employment security next week will end the payment of benefits to Missourians who've been out of work for more than 79 weeks.

That's the point at which regular benefits expire.

Letters have gone out to some 9,300 jobless people.

"We work very hard to communicate what's going to happen, Missouri Employment Security Director Gracia Backer said. People's lives are on the line and so is their livelihood."

Backer said people should continue to file claims for EB payments, just in case the filibuster is broken before the legislative session ends in May and congress agrees to pay retro-actively.

Lembke appears steadfast, but with about fourth of the extended payments going to people in the St. Louis area, he is under pressure, which could increase once the money stops flowing.

"Us turning this money down is not going to do anything to cut federal spending," Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey said.