A victory for helping jobless people get back on their feet

Not long ago, I posted about the need to give jobless Minnesotans more time and more help by extending unemployment benefits. Thanks to the hard work of our Minnesota delegation in Congress and President Barack Obama, unemployed Minnesotans will now have an additional 14 weeks of unemployment benefits while looking for jobs.

Originally legislation was drafted to provide an extension of benefits to those states with an unemployment rate of 8.5% or higher which did not include Minnesota. Because our state unemployment rate is slightly lower, it seemed to me that Minnesotans were being punished for the fact that our state is fairing a little better than the rest of the country. We are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and now more than ever, people need extra help; especially if we want to prevent future economic hardship for Minnesota families and get this economy moving again. Fortunately, the U.S. Senate, with the backing of Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, adopted a broader plan that covered all 50 states universally – the plan which ultimately became law last week.

Today I am grateful that Congress heard our request to extend benefits for all 50 states and President Obama signed the legislation into law. Now jobless Americans in all 50 states have the option of collecting extended unemployment benefits while looking for work. The legislation also extends the first-time homebuyer tax credit program through next spring enabling first-time homebuyers to continue receiving an $8,000 tax credit on their new homes. These are exactly the things we need to get the economy moving again and to get the people of Minneapolis the help they need.

We’re seeing improvement in the economy daily and even more so, we’re seeing hope. Revitalization in north Minneapolis with the “5 Points” Building; breaking ground for the Mill District City apartments in downtown; and new developments like the hydropower facility and the relocation of the Craft Council to Minneapolis are evidence that despite the current economic climate, people are still investing in our city and creating jobs. And this legislation is another source of hope and just what we need to encourage continued economic recovery.

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