Unemployment Extension Debated in Idaho House

A lengthy debate on whether to continue extended unemployment benefits ended with a 41-28 vote to continue the extension. The benefits are 100% federally funded, and will expire anyway at the end of 2011 unless Congress renews them, which is unlikely. The debate was one between ideals and pragmatism. Those opposing argued that there is still a cost as the federal deficit grows and our children and grandchildren are obligated to repay. It was also argued that continuing extended unemployment benefits perpetuates a culture of entitlement and reduced motivation to be productive. Many of those supporting the bill, while agreeing with the philosophical concerns felt that since the money is already federally appropriated and does not obligate state dollars, the loss of $65 million to the Idaho economy and families would be more damaging. I was torn, but in the end voted with the majority to continue the benefits based upon the immediate economic impact from cutting off those benefits, particularly where the extension is 100% is federal rather than state funds. I doubt that refusing the money will result in any actual reduction of our national debt, and this program extension will be ending anyway. These are not funds that are built into our state budget which have to replaced later with state funds.


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