CLARKSVILLE – State Senator Tim Barnes and State Representative Joe Pitts thanked Governor Bill Haslam this week for including unemployment benefits for military spouses in his proposed 2012-13 budget.
“The Governor’s support of this bill shows that Tennesseans truly care about our military families,” Barnes said. “This is a tangible way to show our support and gratitude to our veterans, and I’m humbled to have the opportunity to do so.”
The Governor’s decision marks the first time that such funding has been included in the state budget, after years of work by Barnes, Pitts and other lawmakers to provide benefits for those who have to leave their jobs due to their spouses’ military orders.
Barnes and Pitts’ bill (SB884/HB984) would require the state to pay unemployment benefits for those who left their jobs as a result of a spouse’s military transfer. More than 1,700 Tennessee military spouses are employed and have to transfer each year.
According to the Department of Defense, Tennessee is one of only 11 states that do not currently provide unemployment benefits for military spouses forced to leave their jobs due to a military transfer. Tennessee would likely see about 73 unemployment claims from military spouses each year, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, resulting in an estimated cost of less than $280,000.
“In a year of improving state revenues, providing benefits to military spouses was at the top of our priorities,” Pitts said. “These funds will help military spouses fill in the gap as they resettle, get their children in school and start looking for a new job. This is a matter of military readiness and fairness to these families.”
The Senate version of the bill is slated to be heard in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee after passing unanimously out of Commerce. The House version of the bill is scheduled for a February hearing in the Consumer and Employee Affairs Subcommittee.