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Thursday, April 2, 2009

South Dakota First in Line for Unemployment Stimulus!

Hey, South Dakota finally gets ahead of the curve! AP reports that U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis called Governor Rounds this morning to congratulate him on South Dakota's becoming "first state to pass legislation and be certified to receive unemployment insurance modernization funds from the federal stimulus package." We're Number One! We're Number One!

I'm sure Governor Rounds was smiling through the whole call:

“I am pleased my Department of Labor, the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council and the state Legislature all worked together so quickly to get these funds,” said Gov. Rounds. “This was a major accomplishment for the 2009 session. South Dakota’s trust fund welcomes this influx of money to maintain a stable balance" [South Dakota Department of Labor press release, "South Dakota Certified for Unemployment Modernization Stimulus Funds," 2009.04.02]

Quite a change from his rhetoric just a five weeks ago. Where'd all those darn strings go?

Governor Rounds might want to angle for Governor Schwarzenegger's table instead of the Jindal-Palin-Sanford clique at the next Republican governors conference. Besides, it's easier to enjoy dinner (and fix the recession) when you're not grandstanding.


  1. Good thing, too. Regional economist Ernie Goss thinks that South Dakota will lose an additional 12,000 jobs from now until the end of October.



  2. Rounds took SOME of the funds, but chose not to take another $7 million - for the same reasons he stated 5 weeks ago. He's afraid that if we expand eligibility as the federal government demands, we'll have to keep the expanded eligibility after the federal money runs out and then employers will have to pick up the tab.

    Rounds' one and only concern with the unemployment stimulus funds was that he wanted to take just enough to keep our unemployment state fund over $11 million so that employers don't get assessed to bring it up to that level.

    Rounds couldn't care less about unemployed people. His only concern is keeping our fund high enough that employers wouldn't have to pay in to bolster the fund. Everything for business is the Rounds slogan. The $7 million or so that he left on the table is still available next year, but once again, Rounds will only take it to avoid businesses paying anything extra into the fund. To those unemployed people who could benefit from the help now - Rounds thumbs his nose. They didn't contribute to his campaign.

  3. Sounds like someone crapped in your Cheerios, anon!

  4. All the stimulus money comes with strings. AIG found that out, and these strings keep getting longer. Smart people would tell the gov't to keep their money or give it directly to the people with no strings. I have more respect for the govs that turned down the money than those who said gimme, gimme. This is only ONE TIME money and then the programs will cost me directly. Enough is enough.

  5. Strings, strings, strings: the certification indicated that the legislature had already done all it needed to satisfy the "strings", which amounted to one amendment to our unemployment insurance rules. It doesn't get much less stringy than that.

  6. Rounds made the change necessary to get the first $5.8 million Cory. He didn't make the minor changes to our laws necessary to get the rest of the money that is available.

    We have the absolute stingiest unemployment benefit laws in the country, both in terms of who is eligible and the amount available to the few who are eligible.

    The fact that Rounds wouldn't take millions of $$ for unemployed people if it costs employers a penny down the road is really despicable given the fact that employers are getting off dirt cheap already while people are suffering.

  7. I don't think expanding unemployment benefits to people who haven't been eligible in the past, as the stimulus package strings would have us do, is a good thing. I see unhealthy things happen when people count on living off unemployment. They get used to the idea that they should get paid for doing nothing, that they’re entitled to a check from the government to tide them over an extended vacation. I see young mothers deciding it’s easier to file for unemployment than look for a job and pay a babysitter—even when she’s the sole provider. I see seasonal family businesses putting their kids on the payroll and drawing off the government for several months a year, and laid off manufacturing workers doing all sorts of off-book jobs while collecting benefits, and I especially see problem employees getting laid off and collecting unemployment because that's easier for the employer than establishing that the dismissal was for a cause that should preclude eligibility for benefits. None of this is healthy for a society that doesn't function well when citizens won't take responsibility for their own welfare. Yes, unemployment benefits are important, but the disincentives to work and incentives to cheat the system are so pervasive, that I don’t think any expansion of the system is healthy.

    Fire away!

  8. Ready, aim... ;-)

    I'll accept that any program is subject to abuse. However, even with the abuse, for the purposes of economic stimulus, unemployment benefits give the best return on the dollar.

    As for dependency, I actually don't know a lot of people who enjoy sitting around living off a government check... well, except for retirees. For most workers, living off an unemployment check is untenable. You can't afford to continue your health coverage under COBRA. Even with the stimulus package COBRA subsidy, health insurance gobbles up a lot of that check.

    Note also that someone staying home and collecting unemployment isn't a complete loss. That check gives job hunters a little more time to look for the best jobs for their skills rather than locking themselves into the first offer that will pay the bills. Economically, people doing work they enjoy and do well is better long-term than having everybody take the first job available. (Trust me: having me teach rather than build houses is better for everybody!)

    I might suggest that a far worse and more expensive dependence comes from the extra tax break rich people get for charitable giving. Apparently if rich people get the same 28% tax deduction for charitable giving that the rest of us can claim instead of their special 35% deduction rate, they'll stop giving to charity. Hmm... charitable giving depending on government subsidy that favors the rich. Sounds like a really unhealthy system!

    Yes, we do need to take responsibility for our own welfare. But to some extent, we also have to take responsibility for each other's welfare. When the church offers a free meal, some freeloaders will come and eat and never give anything back to the church. But that doesn't mean the church should quit making meals. Likewise unemployment, Social Security, Medicaid, S-CHIP, food stamps, etc: I'm betting with my taxes and my vote that the good outweighs the bad.

  9. Of course, lrads1, if you know anyone who is cheating the system, all you have to do is report them. Accountability starts with us.

  10. Current SD minimum wage: $6.55/hr... $262 for a 40-hour week.

    Average weekly SD unemployment insurance (UI) benefit: $230.21

    Deal or no deal? (Note that only 18% of jobless South Dakotans claim UI.)


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