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State Senate takes up bill to increase jobless benefits, recover overpayments easier

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill to increase weekly jobless benefits, while making it easier to recover money that was overpaid to recipients.

The bill would increase the weekly payments by $1 to $7, while letting officials check private bank accounts for evidence of overpayments.

Banks that do business with the state government would have to disclose information about the accounts held by those who owe money to the unemployment fund.

Those measures are expected to bring in $8 million a year, to help pay a half-billion dollars back to the federal government for helping the state provide jobless benefits during the recession.

The Senate bill would also toughen the standards for those applying for benefits after they rejected job offers. They would not be eligible for benefits until they find a job and make six times their weekly benefit rates. That’s up from the current 4 times.

The Legislature’s finance panel has already endorsed other controversial changes in the unemployment system, as part of the proposed state budget.

They include making the unemployed look for four jobs a week instead of two. Ten exceptions in which employees can quit and still get benefits would be eliminated.

Also, the budget requires taxpayers to chip in $26 million to help pay the federal government back.