HARRISBURG, May 24, 2011 –- State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton/Luzerne/Monroe) today introduced a floor amendment that would have banned unemployed individuals from accessing their unemployment compensation (UC) from ATM’s in casinos.

“Unemployment benefit dollars are intended to be used to help financially-strapped families put food on the table and pay their bills,” Boscola said. “This money was never intended to be used for gambling.”

Citing a need to expedite passage of the bill (Senate Bill 1030), which must be passed by  June 11 to continue unemployment benefits for 45,000 people, the Senate voted down the Boscola amendment, 36 to 13. Senate Bill 1030 then passed unanimously. It now goes to the House for consideration.

Boscola argued that if the Senate approved her amendment, it would have only needed to delay final passage by one day.

“We have 13 working days left until June 11,” said Boscola.  “If we are serious about continuing benefits for 45,000 unemployed Pennsylvanians, we will pass this amendment and come back tomorrow to send the bill to the House.”

Boscola originally introduced her legislation (Senate Bill 1483) last year, but the measure has been stalled in a Republican-dominated committee.

She took issue with the argument that UC recipients claim the benefit dollars are “theirs,” when they really aren’t.

“There seems to be a misconception across the state about how unemployment compensation benefits are derived,” Boscola argued on the Senate Floor. “Employers and employees all pay into the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund with the lion’s share coming from employers.

“People should understand that this trust fund isn’t a bottomless pit. The fund is rapidly growing insolvent because it is not generating the necessary revenues to pay the current unemployment claims. By the end of this year, Pennsylvania’s fund is expected to owe $3.7 billion to the federal government.

“Apart from the obvious economic consequences, I cannot fathom how a jobless person can justify squandering unemployment compensation dollars at a casino. While most families today live paycheck to paycheck, unemployment compensation provides only half of one’s salary.  In such desperate times, how does this possibly leave any disposable dollars to gamble?”

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