(KFVS) - Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has extended unemployment insurance benefits for an additional 26 weeks to about 2,000 workers who were laid off from the Granite City Steel Mill in 2015.
Rauner signed Senate Bill 1941 on Monday, Dec. 19. The bill went into effect immediately.
Benefits will be paid out from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, a special fund derived from a state unemployment tax paid by Illinois employers, not the state's general revenue fund.
"This legislation will help the hard working families of the Metro East who lost their jobs through no fault of their own," Gov. Rauner said. "While we are encouraged by the recent news that more than 200 jobs will return to the Granite City facility, we hope that by extending unemployment benefits we are able to help the other laid off workers bridge the gap until they are gainfully employed again.
"Our administration will continue to push to help the steel industry and other manufacturers create jobs through common sense reforms to grow jobs, lower property taxes, improve schools and enact term limits."
Illinois State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) applauded Rauner on the signing of the legislation.
"I am grateful today that UI benefits will be extended to the laid off Granite City workers for an additional 26 weeks," Dwight said. "These workers would be employed today had US Trade Agreements been fair and balanced when negotiated by the federal government. The governor's action is bold, timely and adds financial stability for these workers until the mill reopens."
Illinois State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) agrees.
"I'm very pleased and grateful, as I'm sure the families of the steelworkers are, too," Haine said. "This was an agreement between business and labor to help keep these workers and their families in Granite City."
Rob Karr, President & CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said the bill is an example of good legislation regarding an issue important to many Illinoisans.
"This demonstrates yet again that the agreed bill process works when it comes to Illinois' unemployment insurance system," Karr said.