The Missouri Senate didn't sign an extension to a bill Thursday that benefits the unemployed. State Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, led a filibuster to block the continuation of benefits this month for those unemployed for 79 weeks.
Missouri started the extended benefits program two years ago. It uses federal funds to help unemployed Missourians for up to 99 weeks. Had the extension passed and continued to send benefits, the state would have spent $106 million from April through January.
The state Department of Labor estimates 6,500 unemployed workers neared the 79-week cutoff earlier this month out of the 11,700 receiving extended benefits. According to a spokesman for Lembke, the senator sees the federal funds as "opium ... other people's money. He wants to send back the opium that the federal government sends to the states." The funding does not affect state budget.
Should Missouri's long-term unemployed lose benefits?