If you are collecting federal unemployment benefits in Michigan, go ahead and celebrate: State lawmakers approved extending those payments for up to 99 weeks.
Others who pay federal taxes and therefore are footing the bill might not be as pleased. But the Legislature and governor are tapping the brakes on this gravy train. Starting next year, Michigan will not pay for more than 20 weeks of unemployment checks.
Actually, let’s correct that: Michigan businesses will not pay for more than 20 weeks. Employers, not taxpayers, are the ones who fund the state’s jobless benefits. Cutting back these benefits, which are available for 26 weeks now, will save them money, some of which they might spend on equipment or to hire people.
Michigan will offer fewer weeks of unemployment benefits than any state in 2012, but this change is not draconian. Job hunters will get a safety net for four to five months. In a normal, post-recession economy, that should be enough time for most people to find work.
Just as important, Michigan is easing the burden on its job creators, as fewer benefits will mean companies pay less. For a state that needs to help businesses stay open, this will be a positive step.
— THE JACKSON CITIZEN PATRIOT