The Senate voted to provide $115.2 million for technology upgrades and customer service staffing to help jobless workers claim benefits.

HARRISBURG, PA, December 14, 2017 – State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione (D-2nd dist.) applauded the Pennsylvania Senate’s passage yesterday of bipartisan legislation to provide $115.2 million over four years for the state’s Unemployment Compensation system, funding that would help to prevent a recurrence of the lengthy delays experienced earlier this year by countless unemployed workers as they sought to claim their benefits.

Senators voted 43-5 in support of House Bill 1915, a measure amending the Unemployment Compensation Law to direct funding into the Department of Labor and Industry’s Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund. The bill dedicates $30.3 million for technological upgrades to the UC delivery system, while the remainder of the funding is meant to ensure adequate customer service staffing through 2021.

“I am pleased that the overwhelming majority of my colleagues recognized the importance and urgency of funding our Unemployment Compensation system appropriately to ensure that workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own can rely on this vital safety net,” Sen. Tartaglione said.

The legislation draws upon the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, money used to pay for jobless benefits and supported by contributions from employers and active workers.

Sen. Tartaglione played a central role in the passage of the bill through the Senate’s Labor and Industry Committee, on which she is the ranking Democrat, as well as the Appropriations Committee earlier this week. Previously, the measure passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 183-4. The legislation will be forwarded to Gov. Tom Wolf for his consideration.

Despite her support of the bill, Sen. Tartaglione will be watching carefully to ensure that the funding will provide unemployed workers with the level of service they deserve and that service doesn’t diminish when the new funding expires in 2021. Without adequate UC funding in place last December, the state laid off nearly 500 Department of Labor and Industry employees and shut down three of its customer service centers.

The cuts caused long delays for unemployed workers as they tried to apply for and collect benefits. In April, the legislature and Gov. Wolf agreed to provide $15 million in funding that allowed the department to recall 187 workers who had been laid off.

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