Truth to Power

Virginia: Where ideology trumps intelligence

State legislators reject federal help for unemployment

House Republicans turned down $125 million in federal stimulus money for expanded unemployment benefits to Virginians on Wednesday, saying the windfall ultimately would force higher business taxes.

The deeply partisan, 53- 46 vote in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates made Virginia one of the first states to formally reject stimulus dollars and looms as a key issue this fall when all seats in the chamber are up for election.

Earlier in the day, the Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly chose to accept the money on a party-line 21-19 vote.

A visibly angry Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who is chairman of Democratic National Committee, denounced the vote as “completely unfathomable.” Kaine is scheduled to appear this morning in Martinsville, a city whose 20 percent unemployment tops the state’s jobless rate.

To receive the federal dollars, Virginia was required to enlarge its unemployment program, which offers fewer benefits than all but a handful of states. Kaine asked lawmakers to provide benefits to idled part-time workers who do not want to seek full-time jobs and extend the length of time unemployment aid is available to those enrolled in job retraining programs.

Democrats said it was ludicrous not to take the federal money. They said the new programs could be rescinded when the stimulus runs out. Should the General Assembly decide to keep the programs for the long term, they would cost companies about $4.50 per employee per year in additional unemployment taxes.</em>

Be interesting to see what percentage of unemployed Virginians are GOP voters, i.e… the screwed and the stupid.


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