Missouri Passes Extension of Jobless Benefits

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JEFFERSON CITY -- After more than a month of uncertainty, a bill to extend benefits for unemployed Missourians has landed on Gov. Jay Nixon's desk.

The Missouri House passed the measure, 138-13, one day after it cleared the Senate after a group of Republican senators stalled the bill for weeks. About 10,000 Missourians will have their benefits restored after losing them April 2. They'll continue getting paychecks for up to 20 more weeks.

The governor will give the bill an "expedited review," said Scott Holste, a spokesman. The legislature approved a plan that, while restoring extended benefits for currently unemployed Missourians, cuts six weeks of pay from anyone who loses their job in the future. That was necessary to avoid more Senate meddling, House Democratic Leader Mike Talboy said.

"They're called the four horsemen of the apocalypse or, as I've dubbed them, the lunatic fringe," Talboy said, referring to the four Republicans who filibustered the bill for weeks.

As part of a deal to end a filibuster, Republican Senate leaders also pledged to identify up to $250 million of cuts to federal stimulus programs in Missouri. That budget fight will flare up in the coming weeks.