From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
January 29, 2009
Contact: Kathryn Freeman, (512) 463-0126

Senator Lucio and Senator Van de Putte File Unemployment Insurance Legislation

(AUSTIN, TX) — Today, Senator Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) and Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) jointly filed SB 573 to provide for an "alternative base period" when calculating eligibility for unemployment insurance. This legislation along with SB 377 also authored by Senators Van de Putte and Lucio makes Texas eligible for $530 million in federal funding under the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act, part of the federal stimulus package.

The "alternative base period" is much more efficient and would yield fairer benefits for the most vulnerable unemployed Texans, including most prominently, women and low-wage workers.

At this time, only people who have worked full-time and are seeking full-time work can apply for unemployment benefits. This practice leaves out a broad population of the workforce, especially women who often work part-time because they care for small children. Nearly half the states extend UI benefits to part-time employees.M/p> Unemployment Insurance is a proven economic stimulant that generates $2.15 for every dollar circulating the economy, and although Texas has seen continued job growth, the unemployment rate is up 30% from last year to 5.6%.

"Without making these changes Texas will miss out on millions of dollars of federal funds. These funds will allow businesses to see a tax reduction and we will give families the ability to keep food on the table in these harsh economic times." said Van de Putte.

"This legislation will benefit vulnerable workers in our state as well as small businesses. It is critical that we act swiftly to assist Texans struggling to support themselves and their families," said Lucio.

"Given the state of the economy and Texas' growing unemployment population, the time is ripe to make needed updates to our unemployment infrastructure in Texas," she added.