Thursday, March 19, 2009 | 2:08 a.m.
President Barack Obama and Congress wisely realized an economic stimulus package wouldn’t work unless a component involved additional funds for unemployment compensation. This money could help recipients pay bills and put food on the table while they are looking for jobs.
The economic benefit is obvious because it would help pump money into a community and give recipients a better chance of staying in their homes.
As reported by the Associated Press, the stimulus funding would provide $114 million to allow Nevada to extend unemployment benefits by seven weeks to more than 13,000 persons. There would also be $77 million available to more than 4,000 others who currently don’t qualify for benefits, including minimum-wage and construction workers.
We should keep all of this in mind, especially because the unemployment rate in January hit 10 percent in Las Vegas and 9.4 percent statewide.
That is why it was preposterous for Gov. Jim Gibbons to indicate in a March 10 letter to Obama that Nevada may reject portions of the stimulus funding “due to the constraints and current matching or future funding expectations that the funding would require.”
Thankfully, there is another option that allows the Nevada Legislature to accept stimulus money intended to assist the jobless. That is exactly what would occur if legislators adopt Assembly Concurrent Resolution 17 and companion Assembly Bill 469, which were introduced Monday. The resolution states the Legislature’s intent to accept the money and the bill would modify state unemployment compensation laws to accommodate the stimulus funds.
The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and Nevada AFL-CIO told lawmakers Wednesday that they support the legislation.
As Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, told the AP: “It’s extremely critical for our state to receive these unemployment funds ... With so many people unemployed in the state, it only makes sense. It would be unconscionable to deny the unemployed these benefits.”
We could not agree more, which is why the Legislature should pass both ACR17 and AB469.
This is not the time for Gibbons or legislators to turn their backs on Nevadans who had the misfortune of losing their jobs. The state should do everything it can to help these individuals stay on their feet during these tough economic times.