Holden signs unemployment bill

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Associated Press WriterJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Unemployment benefits for people who lose their jobs will increase by 28 percent and businesses will pay more into the state unemployment fund under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Bob Holden.

The new law gradually increases the maximum weekly unemployment check to $320 from the current $250 by 2010. Businesses would also pay higher taxes over the next two years to restore the fund's long-term stability. Over the long run, supporters say the law will reduce taxes businesses pay into the fund.

"Unemployment benefits are important not only as a short-term benefit for those temporarily without work and their families, but also to the stability of area economies during a time of layoffs or high unemployment," Holden said in a statement.

The compromise on bill was hashed out in the final week of legislative session, ultimately passing both the House and Senate with broad majorities. All sides agreed the bill marked a major bipartisan achievement, but Holden signed the bill with no ceremony Thursday in his Capitol office. Holden has signed several other major bills without fanfare recently, including the state's $19 billion budget and an overhaul of the foster care system.

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