by Jim Nintzel
State Sen. Al Melvin, who represents the Catalina Foothills and Oro Valley in the Arizona Legislature, remains opposed a change in state law that would allow out-of-work Arizonans to receive extended unemployment benefits from the federal government, even though it would not cost the state a dime.
Hank Stephenson, a reporter for the Nogales International and contributor to TW, caught up Melvin this week during while the Republican lawmakers was attending a special committee hearing on border issues.
Melvin, who has said in the past that extending unemployment benefits discourages people from looking for work, is taking his lead from European nations.
“When this came up in Europe they found that as the time decrease, people brushed off their resumes and went back to work quicker than if it was just an open-ended time,” Melvin said.
He added that there are plenty of jobs to be had in Arizona, despite an April unemployment rate of nearly 9 percent.
“I’m not a help wanted department here, but I’m hearing from many private sector companies (that there are jobs out there),” Melvin said. “Here in Arizona, like Texas, I believe we’re on a rebound to have jobs who seek gainful employment.”
When a Tucson television reporter asked Melvin about the contention by Arizona Democrats and Republican Jan Brewer that the extension of benefits won’t cost the state anything because it would be paid for with federal dollars, Melvin got so excited that he knocked the mic right off his shirt.
"This is stealing from unborn generations,” Melvin said. “This is what is called generational theft and we’re not going to be a part of it. And where is the money coming from? It’s coming China, is where it’s coming from. So we’re taking money from China to provide unemployment benefits, and it's money that we just don’t have."
Asked what he would say to people whose benefits are about to run out, Melvin replied:
“How long have they been on that already?”
As The Range reported earlier this week, lawmakers would have to act by the end of next week to receive the federal dollars.