Governor signs bill that raises jobless benefit to $400 a week

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Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill Sunday that raises the region’slowest unemployment compensation payment.

The bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate

The increase was the first in 17 years and comes long after the recession of 2008 and 2009. At that time, the high jobless rate did not leave any room for an incease.

Sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark, House Bill 198 increases the maximum weekly benefit amount from $330 a week to $400 a week, payable to individuals seeking unemployment compensation benefits from the Delaware Division of Unemployment Insurance.

The funds needed to pay this increase will be paid from the Unemployment Trust Fund, which is paid for by the employer and employee.

“The unemployment benefit provides a vital lifeline to residents who find themselves out of work due to no fault of their own. The bills don’t stop coming in, even if the pay does,” said Osienski. “It’s troubling that we have not increased this weekly benefit since 2002, which has made it more difficult for Delawareans to make ends meet during these times when they’re most in need of this assistance.

”Raising the benefit to $400 per week would bring it more closely in line with surrounding states. Maryland’s benefit is $430 and Pennsylvania’s is $561. Click here for the rates paid by all 50 states.

HB 198 will take effect on July 1.

“The decision to increase Delaware’s weekly unemployment benefit was long overdue. Workers who find themselves unemployed, due to no fault of their own, cannot survive on $330 per week,” saidDelaware Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade. “I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly over the next year to further strengthen one of our most important social safety net programs”

Also on Sunday, Governor Carney signed two additional unemployment compensation measures. House Bill 149, sponsored by Rep. Osienski and Sen. Jack Walsh, which disqualifies a person who obtained an overpayment of benefits through fraud from receiving future unemployment benefits until the total overpayment, penalties, and interest are repaid in full.

Previously, if a claimant fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits, those funds would be recouped by deducting from subsequently awarded benefits.

HB 149 will take effect 60 days after being signed into law.

House Bill 148 is an efficiency initiative, allowing the Department of Labor to deliver notice by methods other than through mail to reduce costs by using e-mail delivery for certain notices.

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