Dems continue full-court press on unemployment

The House Republican majority has unwittingly given Democrats a cornerstone to their efforts to take back the junior legislative chamber next fall.
“While Bob McDonnell and the House Republicans are fighting ideological battles with Washington, real Virginians are hurting,” said Levar Stoney, executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, talking up the petition drive initiated by Virginia Democrats aimed at getting Republicans to reconsider their politically motivated opposition to the acceptance of $125 million of federal stimulus funds to expand unemployment benefits for Virginians impacted by the economic recession.

House Republicans blocked a move by Gov. Tim Kaine to amend the State Code that would have extended the length of benefits for unemployed Virginians and also allowed residents in job retraining and working part-time to receive unemployment benefits, arguing that the temporary move, were it to become permanent, would cost state taxpayers millions of dollars in the future.

Nearly 5,000 Virginians, including all three candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for governor, have signed the grassroots petition calling for presumptive GOP nominee Bob McDonnell and House Republicans to back off from their opposition to the stimulus monies.

“We launched this petition to empower Virginians to share their story and tell legislators to stand up for the rest of us. Clearly, we’ve tapped into some serious frustration with the way Bob McDonnell and House Republicans are running things in Richmond,” Stoney said.

“Yesterday, I was in Martinsville and Danville and I saw first-hand the struggles laid-off workers are facing all over this Commonwealth. Today, I’m asking people to join me in signing this petition to stand up for hard-working Virginians. Bob McDonnell’s opposition to urgent assistance for displaced workers is heartless,” gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds said in a statement. “Bob McDonnell and Virginia Republicans are turning their backs on the Virginians who are hurting the most. It’s time to put politics aside and get this done,” Deeds said.

“Bob McDonnell’s opposition to accepting $125 million to extend unemployment benefits is a slap in the face to the thousands of Virginia families struggling under the current economic crisis. With unemployment reaching over 20 percent in communities like Martinsville, it is unconscionable that McDonnell would turn a cold shoulder to Virginia’s unemployed workers,” gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said. “I urge Virginians across the Commonwealth to join me in signing this petition so that we can send a strong message that it is time for Bob McDonnell to put aside partisan games and instead work for bipartisan solutions to get our economy back on track.”

“Families are struggling today like they haven’t in a generation. Unemployment in our hardest hit communities is over 20%, rivaling the 25% unemployment of the great depression. It’s unconscionable that the House of Delegates would continue obstructing relief. I’ve joined Virginians from across the Commonwealth in adding my support for calling on them to return to Richmond and fix this mistake. People need a government that fights for them, not against them,” gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran said.

In the meantime, Kaine announced on Tuesday plans to open Unemployment Express Offices across the state and his move to form an Economic Crisis Strike Force to coordinate the statewide response to job losses.

“It is our obligation to respond to the ongoing recession and the resulting layoffs with all of the tools we have in government,” Gov. Kaine said. “Through the Strike Force, we are coordinating a wide variety of services to Virginians in the area of economic development, social services, unemployment insurance and job search assistance.”

 

– Story by Chris Graham


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