The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving the state of Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington. The Conference testifies in support of Senate Bill 882 which would extend unemployment benefits and provide additional weeks of unemployment insurance (UI) to Marylanders hit hardest by the economic downturn. The Conference supports SB 882 because the State of Maryland should adopt new “on” and “off” indicators of high unemployment to make thousands of struggling and unemployed Marylanders and their families eligible for Extended Benefits.
Extended Benefits (EB) is a program, funded in part by the federal government, to provide funding for extended unemployment benefits in those states in which the unemployment rate is exceedingly high. Usually States share this cost with the federal government, however because of the particularly harsh effects of the economic downturn, the federal government has agreed to fully fund the program if states have self-identified unemployment indicators that would thus make them eligible. To receive federal funding for the Extended Benefits program, Maryland must change its unemployment indicators to make the State eligible for EB and thus trigger the program “on”. Maryland is one of only 9 eligible states that have failed to act and help those unemployed and struggling within their state. Our Church teaches that public policy should engender a “love of preference for the poor.” In the interest of providing an ongoing safety net for Marylanders experiencing unemployment and in helping families making ends meet after suffering a job loss, the Maryland Catholic Conference urges your support for SB 882.