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MO Senate embraces extension of jobless benefits

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UPI/Bill Greenblatt

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -  Thousands of Missouri residents cut off from federally funded jobless benefits soon could regain eligibility under a plan embraced Thursday by the state Senate — but their gain could come at the expense of people laid off in the future.

Several Republican senators upset about federal spending ended a filibuster Thursday against legislation renewing the federal long-term benefits, but only after the Senate voted to cut state jobless benefits by six weeks, to a maximum of 20 weeks instead of 26 weeks.

As part of the deal, Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer also pledged to help the filibustering senators identify $250
million of federal stimulus spending that can be cut from the state’s budget.

Republicans who had held up the unemployment legislation declared it victory — though the outcome was not what they had demanded a day earlier, when they called on Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to first join them in eliminating $300 million of federal stimulus spending.

“My goal from the beginning was to send back as much stimulus money as possible — borrowed money from the federal government — and that’s what we accomplished,” said Sen. Jim Lembke, a Republican from St. Louis, who led a group of four filibustering senators.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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