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State Assembly to vote on unemployment benefit changes

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Assembly is expected to vote on a bill Wednesday to increase weekly jobless benefits, while making it tougher to get them.

The Senate passed the measure on a 17-15 party line vote Tuesday, with all Democrats voting no.

It increases the weekly payments by $1 to $7, with a maximum weekly benefit of $370.

The bill also toughens the standards for those applying for unemployment after they rejected job offers. It also repeals an extra 26 weeks of benefits to those who get job training.

Federal stimulus funds started covering those in 2009, but they’ve been long gone.

Senate Republican Frank Lasee of De Pere proposed the bill to prop up the state’s unemployment benefit fund – and to ease the burden of businesses that pay into the fund.

Green Bay Democrat Dave Hansen says it’s the wrong time to cut benefits while jobless rates are still relatively high, and Wisconsin lags behind most other states in job growth.

The bill also lets officials check private bank accounts to check whether benefit recipients were overpaid. Banks that do business with the state government would have to disclose information about the accounts held by those who owe money to the unemployment fund.