Thursday, March 31, 2011

Legislature's Greatest Achievement? Robbing from the Unemployed

Today, Governor Snyder and his band of Reverse Merry Men will hold a presser to review the destruction they have brought to the state, but Sen. Richardville has indicated what he thinks is the greatest triumph - kicking people who are down.

The bill reduces state-level unemployment benefits for workers who file starting Jan. 15, 2012, a move that would then reduce the weeks of federal benefits for which they qualify.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, on Wednesday described the unemployment bill as the Legislature's greatest achievement. The bill, which includes provisions to crack down on fraud in the unemployment system, will benefit workers and businesses, he said.

"By reducing the weeks … from 26 to 20, we reduced the cost to business on an annual basis between $600 million and a billion dollars," Richardville said. "It's an accomplishment that's huge for businesses."

The Democrats have introduced legislation that would restore the weeks back to 26, but that is not going to happen.

Not until 2014, anyway. By then, things could be a lot worse, according to Rick Haglund.

A conservative friend of mine, commenting on a front-page New York Times story about the measure, which I posted on my Facebook news feed, suggested we go further and end employer financing of the unemployment insurance system.

His solution? Since employees are the ones who receive jobless benefits, make them finance the system through payroll deductions.

Employee contributions to support the state’s unemployment insurance system could cost Michigan workers as much as $900 a year each under the current structure.

Initially, this idea struck me as too far removed from mainstream thought of how economic safety nets should work to ever be considered by policymakers.

But maybe it’s not so unimaginable. Already three states — Alaska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — require small contributions from employees to their unemployment insurance systems.

And business lobbying groups in Michigan say Snyder’s historic shrinking of benefit weeks doesn’t go far enough to cut the cost of Michigan’s system, which pays a maximum of $362 a week to eligible laid-off workers.

Might as well just require that everyone cut a check directly to the Chamber. It's obvious they are running the government now, and the government shall serve them only.

UPDATE: The MDP released a video covering Snyder's Greatest Hits of the first three months on the job. Love the spooky music.