Increase in Unemployment Benefits to Start Week of March 2nd
Governor Certifies Commitment to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Governor Donald L. Carcieri joined House and Senate leaders today at a press conference to officially certify that the State of Rhode Island will receive funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The ARRA requires state governors to certify that their states will request and use funds to support activities that will create jobs and economic development. By statute, Governor Carcieri is required to certify the request no later than April 3, 2009.
“Today marks a very important day in our state’s history. By certifying that Rhode Island will participate in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we are on the path back to economic recovery,” said Governor Carcieri. “I pledge to work with the General Assembly, our congressional delegation, and our cities and towns to identify and agree upon projects quickly, to maximize the federal stimulus dollars available to Rhode Island, and to get our economy moving again.”
In addition, the Governor certified participation in specific pieces of the ARRA, including an increase in unemployment benefits and energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
The Governor will certify the receipt of federal unemployment insurance funds increasing benefits by an additional $25 per week. Individuals currently collecting unemployment insurance benefits are now eligible to collect an additional $25 each week. Whether individuals are entitled to regular unemployment insurance, Rhode Island Extended Benefits or Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation payments, they will receive an additional $25 in their weekly benefit payments. The week ending February 28 is the first eligible week for the program, and payouts are scheduled to begin on March 2.
“The additional $25 per week in unemployment benefits is a small, but important, first step to helping individuals who have lost their jobs,” said Governor Carcieri.
Existing unemployment insurance customers do not need to apply separately for these benefits, which will be added automatically to their weekly payments. The Federal Additional Compensation Program expires December 31, 2009. The program is financed in its entirety by the federal government and has no impact on the Rhode Island general revenue fund. For the week ending February 14, Rhode Island had a total unemployment insurance claim load of approximately 38,500. Of these, approximately 2,400 were new claims.
The Governor is also seeking to move ahead with additional changes in unemployment benefits, allowing the state to maximize the $23.5 million in available stimulus funds.
For more information on unemployment insurance programs in Rhode Island or to file an unemployment insurance claim, visit the Department of Labor and Training's Web site at www.dlt.ri.gov.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The Governor certified the state’s commitment to participate in the share of the $3.1 billion funding for the State Energy Program (SEP) under ARRA.
In his certification letter, the Governor provided assurances that Rhode Island is committed to prioritizing the state’s energy investments to take advantage of existing programs and expand programs where appropriate. The Governor sent letters to the Public Utilities Commission requesting consideration of additional actions to promote energy efficiency, to maintain just and reasonable rates and, to continue to protect the public interest. The Governor also sent a letter to the General Assembly requesting consideration of actions to improve building energy codes, consistent with State law and State Constitutional requirements, and to consider the statutory language contained in ARRA.
“Rhode Island is committed to a robust improvement in energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as a balanced State energy policy,” continued Carcieri.
Making Work Pay Tax Credit
For 2009 and 2010, the Making Work Pay provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide a refundable tax credit of up to $400 for working individuals and $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.
For people who receive a paycheck and are subject to federal withholding, the credit will typically be handled by their employers through automated withholding changes in early spring (by April 1st). These changes may result in an increase in take-home pay. On average, individuals will see a $13 per week increase as the result of lowering the federal income tax withholding.
The State of Rhode Island has completed the necessary IT upgrades and the increase will be reflected for state employees in the next pay period, on March 6, 2009. The Governor encouraged the private sector to move quickly to update tax tables before the April 1 deadline. “Putting more money in people’s pockets is critical to help those struggling and start to rebuild consumer confidence,” continued the Governor.
The amount of the credit must be reported on the employee's 2009 income tax return filed in 2010. Taxpayers who do not have taxes withheld by an employer during the year can also claim the credit on their 2009 tax return.