The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that Maryland will get $126.8 million in federal money because it expanded the number of people eligible for unemployment benefits.
The move was expected: State legislators changed the program guidelines in the past session with an eye toward qualifying for the "modernization" incentive money. U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis praised the state Thursday, saying that offering unemployment checks to more out-of-work people "is the right thing to do."
The dollars will flow into the state's unemployment insurance trust fund, which was so depleted by the recession that it required a short-term advance from the federal government to pay benefits earlier in the year.
Payments from businesses, due April 30, brought the fund's balance up to almost $390 million. The incentive money will be added on top of that, and the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said it doesn't expect to need more advances this year.