Senator Prusi’s statement is as follows:
I rise to speak to the urgency of this discharge. I believe under Statements yesterday my colleague from Genesee County, Senate District No. 26, spoke about the recent unemployment numbers that were released by the Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth—14.1 percent here in Michigan the highest it’s been since 1983. I would like to bring you back to 1983 because, in 1983, I was 1 of 3,500 iron ore miners laid off at the Marquette Range in the Upper Peninsula.
I went through an extended period of unemployment. The only thing that helped keep my family together was the fact that I had extended unemployment benefits. There were 3,500 iron ore miners laid off, and you could not find a job in the Upper Peninsula to save your soul. Eventually, I ended up moving to Colorado to find work. I don’t want to see the working families of Michigan go through the summer and into the fall waiting for this body to do something.
I believe there is a degree of urgency when you consider that thousands of Michigan working families are losing their unemployment benefits as each week elapses. When my unemployment benefit elapsed, I had to leave a 3- and 4-year-old daughter behind in the Upper Peninsula to go and find work. I do not want to see the working families of Michigan subjected to that same trauma that I was subjected to 26 years ago.
We have a fix here before us. If we can take these bills up; pass these unemployment extension benefits; allow people who have no job to get trained for a job; allow people to support their families as we go through this troubled turbulent economic time, I think that makes imminent sense. I think it is what this body should stand for. I think it’s what this caucus stands for. I would urge the members to support this discharge.
These bills have sat long enough. Thousands of people are going without unemployment benefits because we refuse to act in this chamber, and I think now is the time to act before we break for the summer; before we let these families go without the unemployment benefits that supports them and supports their children.