Kaine wants to extend unemployment benefits

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Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has proposed expanding unemployment benefits for many Virginians out of work, a move that could increase the unemployment insurance tax on businesses by $4.50 an employee each year.

Kaine’s proposal would allow the state to tap $125 million in federal money. To receive the money, the state needs to pass two of four amendments to its unemployment benefits program.

Kaine proposes providing unemployment benefits for employees who are seeking part-time work and extending benefits by 26 weeks for unemployed workers who are enrolled in retraining programs.

Business groups oppose the tax increase, arguing that the tax would extend well beyond the benefits of the federal stimulus.

The governor says Virginia’s unemployment taxes is one of the nation’s lowest. The tax currently is $98 per employee each year. The next lowest in nearby by states is South Carolina, where the tax is about $148 an employee.

Kaine wants to use federal money to extend unemployment benefits for 13 weeks beyond the 26-week period currently in place for unemployed workers. He also proposes extending health insurance for unemployed workers of small businesses from three months to nine months.

The House of Delegates and Senate will vote on Kaine’s proposals when they return to Richmond for the April 8 veto session. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

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