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Pennsylvania House Takes Aim at Unemployment Payouts

Posted on May 21, 2011
Rep. Perry's office

Pennsylvania state Rep. Scott Perry, foreground.

Pennsylvania’s GOP-controlled House of Representatives will consider a bill that would change the way unemployment benefits are calculated, taking almost $500 million out of jobless residents’ pockets each year. The author of the legislation, Rep. Scott Perry, argues that many unscrupulous workers take advantage of the current system, which uses a person’s highest earning quarter as a metric for calculating payout amounts. The new system would average each applicant’s best three previous quarters, a blow to many of the 70 percent of claimants whose wages are uneven throughout the year.

Tedious calculations aside, Perry is singing a popular Republican refrain about expensive government services sinking state economies. But unlike states such as California and Illinois struggling with massive budget deficits, Pennsylvania has a $500 million surplus this year. So lacking the kind of urgency that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker drummed up for his anti-union campaign, Perry is trotting out the tired specter of the welfare queen to spook voters. This so the average weekly unemployment payment can be cut to below $300. But, hey, Perry says, it’s just a “fairness thing.”  —KDG  

Huffington Post:

Is there a significant number of lazy, dishonorable Pennsylvanians with such a keen grasp of the state’s unemployment compensation formula?

“Believe it or not, there are people out there that understand the system very well and use it in that regard,” Perry said, adding that he learned of the problem from people who adjudicate unemployment claims. “It’s not a huge proportion of the unemployment-receiving population, but there are those individuals out there and that’s not the type of thing as a government, as a society, that we want to incentivize, in my opinion.”

Dietrich, who strongly opposes Perry’s proposal, does not believe such a problem exists.

“Not only have I never heard of it, I can’t imagine it,” she said. “I have been practicing [unemployment compensation] law for 25 years, and I wouldn’t understand benefit calculation enough to manipulate the system. UC benefit calculation is arcane, technical stuff. I simply don’t believe that laypeople would know how to game the system in that way, much less that they are doing it.”

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By Mike Bowman, June 9, 2011 at 11:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just more garbage from another guy in government who is out of touch with the reality that is going on in the real world.

Does he think the unemployed are just sneaky crooks looking for new ways to steal from the government? There are not enough jobs for all the unemployed. That is a fact. Also, I was at a job fair in Pittsburgh on June 8 where a representative of the event specifically told us before entering the convention hall, that the unemployed or self-employed would NOT be considered for a job!! Why doesnt Perry fix that issue instead?

Sometimes people, like Perry, don’t have anything constructive to offer so in order to stay in the news and appear relevant they come up with ridiculous stuff like this. Shame on him.

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By purplewolf, May 22, 2011 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

How these crooks keep coming up with all this beyond honest peoples minds. I have even heard one idiot in congress claim that all unemployment checks go into the people’s bank accounts and that they save rather than spend that unemployment money. Where that jackass found that information lacks proof of what he claims.No one I know on unemployment saves any of that money as it is not enough to cover living expenses for most family’s now.

Give liars time to figure and they do.

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By Leefeller, May 22, 2011 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Since I have never collected unemployment in my life and I paid into unemployment about a long as I paid into Social Security and Medicare and I have paid taxes my whole life,  I feel real good knowing the oil companies did not pay any taxes but get subsidized by my taxes!

So how does this work, if I pay into something it is called a ponzi scheme and makes me a slacker, but if I am wealthy and pay no taxes but receive subsides it is called it research?

I don’t need no stinking research to know when I am getting hosed and force fed some more of that robust Republican bull shit!

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By PatrickHenry, May 22, 2011 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

The reelection of these facist politicians has only gotten worse with the paperless Diebold and ESS, voting systems.

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By rico, suave, May 22, 2011 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

The Chomskite manipulation of language on this website is breathtaking-

“... taking almost $500 million out of jobless residents’ pockets each year.”

In the real world, unemployment payouts would be reduced by $500 million. But truthdig is proud to encourage the image of ruthless bureaucrats riffling through the pockets of the down and out for their spare change.

“truth"dig indeed.


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By Leefeller, May 22, 2011 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

The GOP is and has been doing these kinds of actions and even worse in other states, it is not just Pennsylvania. There seems to be GOP State Level actions to destroy peoples liberties and rights to fulfill a corporate mandate in order to protect the wealthy?

Many states are setting up voter voting laws designed to make it much harder or even impossible for people to vote or register to vote, it seems directed at minorities, college student and elderly, possible in the future move to shut down Medicare and Social security.

I suspect this over reaching by the GOP is designed to infuriate the masses, as a way to induce marshal law.  I see little difference between the actions of people like Walker in Wisconson and Qaddafi in Libya, except Qaddafi has more scruples than Walker or the GOP.

The slow move to Fascism seems to be moving with more speed.

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By Wren, May 22, 2011 at 6:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How can anyone manipulate the UI system when you have to be laid off by your employer to qualify? If you quit, you are not illegible. Is Perry suggesting that people are conspiring with their employers to maximize their UI benefits? It would seem that employers have way more say in how much benefits a worker gets than the employees do.

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By Don, May 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yea, 500 million that would go right back into the
economy, great thinking guys.

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By Textynn, May 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, cows are here to be milked and butchered. What do you expect from the GOP?  There is no longer a veil that they serve the American people.  The GOP are the slave drivers working for the masters and they don’t even try to hide it any more.

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By Debra Istvanik-Strotman, May 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is beyond my comprehension why these criminals won the election in the first place.

Governor Corbett attacked middle class during his campaign for governor, calling those on unemployment lazy people, wanting to sit home on their couch, watching t.v. all day, collecting all that money they receive from unemployment..I heard no republican challenge his ignorant and untrue remarks. Most people want to work and none get rich sitting on their sofa’s.

PA has one of the largest, bloated legistation in the country ,yet we are told we can do nothing about it. It is time for us to do something about it. Rep. Scott Perry is miming Gov. Corbett. Both need to be tar and feathered and sent out of the state on a rail.

Republicans’ all over the country have declared war on all middle class Americans and if we don’t protest in large numbers in each state capitol we will end up a third world country being dictated to and no voice, as we will be silcenced.

Those who cry wolf, point a finger at the other party turned out to be the ‘dictators of United States.’

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By berniem, May 21, 2011 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment

As a life-long Pennsylvanian I can attest to the personal arrogance and greed that is the Pa. Legislature which is a full-time body that gets nothing done but tend to it’s own interests! It is also the 2nd largest and most expensive to operate with few disclosure constraints. For years voters have demanded that it’s size and benefits be slashed to no avail as Pa. has no provisions for initiative or referendum and to amend the constitution is a Byzanntine and arcane ordeal dependent upon the willingness of the legislature to permit it, aperfect Catch-22! I can honestly say that I have never met or known a member of this body that is not corrupt, self-serving, and patently dishonest! Unfortunately, voting districts have been so gerimandered that incumbency guaretees lifetime employment with right of first refusal as to your successor!

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By gstoddard, May 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

Well we have criminalized addictions and mental illness successfully so it’s
apparently time to stigmatize those who lose their jobs in a recession. If they were
just properly motivated, they too good join the ranks of the wealthy and
privileged. They just don’t realize what it takes to capitalize on the many
wonderful opportunities for upward social mobilization in our conservative led

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By TDoff, May 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment

Wait’ll Scott Perry finds out how much Pennsylvania spends on food for it’s police dogs. Pretty soon he’ll introduce legislation with a double-savings whammy, to quit burying indigent dead in pauper’s plots, which will save a lot of dough, and just feed their remains to the dogs (which has a neat GOPer sound to it), and will also save boo coo bucks.

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By prisnersdilema, May 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Crue, and mean spirited, kicking people when they are down.

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