OHIO — Ohio Gov.
John Kasich and other top Republican lawmakers announced Wednesday a plan to provide $20 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 200,000 unemployed Ohioans who’ve lost their jobs in the past three years.
The plan would include $20.3 billion in state unemployment insurance that would be paid out to households earning $150,000 a year.
The plan also would increase the state’s unemployment benefits from the current $15.25 to $20 a month.
The federal unemployment insurance program, known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, is set to expire in two weeks.
The governor said he will propose legislation to extend the state program.
“We’re working hard to make sure Ohioans are helped and that we have enough help to help them get back on their feet and get back to work,” Kasich said.
“We’re going to be able to do that through these unemployment assistance programs.
That’s going to happen.”
Kasich said his administration is working with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Treasury to provide workers with benefits that match the wages they earn, including overtime pay.
“I believe that we should not be penalizing people who are actually making a living,” he said.
Kasikis plan would not affect current workers who would have to continue paying Social Security benefits until the end of 2019.
The Ohio Democratic Party said it will oppose the plan.
“This is an irresponsible, unworkable, unbalanced, and untenable proposal that will cause more suffering and hardship for millions of Ohioans,” Ohio Democratic Chairman Dave Yost said in a statement.
“In addition to creating millions of new jobs, the proposal will hurt our economy by creating more jobs for people who don’t have the skills and knowledge necessary to get them.”
“This proposal will also hurt Ohio’s fragile economic recovery by hurting Ohio’s businesses by putting Ohioans on the losing end of the recession,” Yost added.
Republicans and Democrats alike have long opposed extending the federal unemployment benefits.
Some of Kasichs plan includes a plan by the Ohio Economic Development Corp. to create more than 20,000 new jobs through state incentives.
The agency said it expects to hire as many as 1,500 workers this year and up to 50,000 in 2019.
“I am committed to the creation of more than 25,000 jobs and the construction of a new $1.2 trillion economic stimulus package for Ohio, and I have the bipartisan support of my Democratic colleagues,” Kasichs spokesman, Kevin Griffey, said in an email.
“Our plan will provide relief for thousands of people who need it and support thousands of small businesses that are struggling to get by in this tough economic time.”
Democrats and Republicans have both been pushing for an increase in federal unemployment assistance, with Kasichs proposal being a major plank of his bid to be the GOP nominee for president in 2016.