More than $3.1 billion in stimulus money earmarked for the unemployed is idling in federal coffers, USA Today reports, because 23 states haven’t expanded their unemployment benefits in order to qualify. Another 350,000 workers could receive benefits if they did, according to one worker advocacy group. But some Republicans complain that expanding benefits would put force states to raise taxes when the stimulus cash runs out.
But taking the money could actually prevent impending tax hikes in several states that have declined the money, including Indiana, Alabama, Florida, and Texas. In those states, taxes automatically rise for employers if unemployment funds need more cash. But Republicans say they’re taking the long view. “If the federal government really wanted to help us, they would have sent those dollars without any strings attached,” said a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry.