Legislative watchers criticize House unemployment insurance vote

Cheyenne, Wyo. – While lawmakers say they did a lot to create jobs this session, some state policy watchers remain critical of how lawmakers handled benefits for unemployed workers.

The House defeated an effort to extend federal unemployment benefits to about 5,000 Wyoming residents. State Representative Mary Throne, a Democrat from Cheyenne, says the measure also would have expanded unemployment eligibility for those who have had difficulty finding work. Conservative members of the House railed against the extension, saying that people need to have an incentive to go out and find jobs.

Dan Neal of the Equality State Policy center says that was his biggest disappointment of the session. "Thirty-eight million dollars that the House refused to take," he said. "That was one debate that I thought the tenor was poor, because we are talking about people who lost their jobs and they said we are making it easy for people not to work. They said we are making it too easy for them not to find work."

Evansville Republican Kendall Kroker defended the House action as fiscally prudent.