Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement after the state Senate failed to vote for additional funding for the Department of Labor and Industry’s unemployment compensation call centers during its only scheduled post-election session day:
"If you have received unemployment insurance or know anyone who has, you know how important it is for people to receive help in navigating a complicated system, particularly at a difficult time in their lives. Too often, the phone lines to the call centers where help can be found are busy. And that often means that recently-unemployed people cannot secure the help they need in claiming the benefits to which they are entitled, and which have been paid for in part by their own taxes.
"This has long been a serious problem in Pennsylvania. Recent additions to funding from the federal and state governments have helped reduce it. But yesterday, the Pennsylvania Senate left town without action on HB 2375, which would have continued that funding.
"HB2375, which received bi-partisan support in the House, provided $57.5 million to improve UC services, replacing funding previously provided by Act 34, which has expired. Act 34 funding helped reduce call wait times by more than an hour in the last two years.
"Those improvements—and further ones—may now be lost. And what’s worse, 600 employees of the Department of Labor and Industry will be laid off before the holidays.
"Here’s hoping that they will be able to get their unemployment insurance in a timely fashion."