Gov. Bill Haslam has rejected the pleas of Democrats to extend unemployment benefits for thousands of Tennesseans.
The governor’s spokeswoman, Alexia Poe, said Friday he has told lawmakers he will oppose taking the money from his proposed state budget or from the state’s emergency reserve funds.
“Our budget reflects our top priorities,” Poe said, adding that Haslam “did see it as historic that there had already been 79 weeks of benefits” paid to the jobless.
Benefits ran out in April for 28,000 Tennesseans after the legislature failed to enact a law to extend them. It would cost roughly $3 million in state and local funds to draw nearly $58 million in federal money to extend those benefits for up to 20 more weeks.
Democratic Party chairman Chip Forrester has criticized Haslam and Republican lawmakers for refusing to fund the extra benefits.
“Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican legislators haven’t lived up to their promise to create jobs, and now their negligence is jeopardizing critical financial support that is keeping children fed, bills paid and families out of foreclosure,” Forrester said.