HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – Legislative leaders yesterday struck a last-minute deal on legislation that will allow Pennsylvania to qualify for an extension of federally-funded unemployment benefits for 45-thousand residents.

The hold-up on a bill that would allow for 13 more weeks of federally-funded unemployment for  people who’ve exhausted 72 weeks of benefits had to do with House Republicans’ desire to add language making reforms to the state’s unemployment compensation system faced with billions of dollars in liabilities.

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Allegheny County Republican Mike Turzai, House majority leader, says, “This is about, for those who are in a bad spot, extending benefits. But it’s also to make sure that the system works, so that employers want to stay here and expand here.”

But Allegheny County Democrat Frank Dermody, the House minority leader, says Democrats thwarted a GOP plan to save money by cutting benefits. “Well, they were achieving that on the backs of unemployed works and their benefits,” Dermondy says. “They were cutting benefits to unemployed workers. They were reducing the average weekly benefits.”

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The compromise bill would freeze the maximum unemployment benefit for next year and slow increases in following years.

Reported by Harrisburg Bureau Chief Tony Romeo, KYW Newsradio 1060

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