Eugene Turner has a word or two for U.S. senators who voted Thursday against a $109 billion bill that would have extended emergency unemployment benefits for job seekers like himself.
The 58-year-old journeyman electrician who has been out of work for more than a year will stop receiving unemployment checks in 10 weeks.
"They have no heart for the public -- the working man," Turner said Friday at the Nevada JobConnect office on Maryland Parkway near Desert Inn Road, where people were waiting to use computers.
Turner, who moved here from Los Angeles six weeks ago looking for work, said he's scared about how he's going to pay rent when his government assistance runs out.
"My bills ain't going to stop in 10 weeks," he said, shaking his head.
Jerry Medina, an unemployed bartender who just received the last of 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits and was searching for a job at the jammed JobConnect office in Carson City, stated things in stronger terms.
"They are destroying my life," Medina said. "I don't know what I am going to do. What they have done is a total disgrace. Those politicians are scum."
The bill, which fell three votes short of passage, would have allowed jobless people to receive as many as 73 weeks of additional emergency benefits after they get 26 weeks of benefits from the state.
As a result of the bill's rejection, 1,600 unemployed Nevadans won't be receiving another check, and that number will increase dramatically in coming months, according to Mae Worthey, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
She said 70,000 Nevadans now are receiving federally-paid benefits under five different programs approved by Congress. Once they finish their current extension program -- none lasts longer than 20 weeks -- they won't receive more benefits.
"There is really not much they can do," Worthey said. "The social service programs will be flooded. It is very sad."
Cindy Jones, the administrator of the Employment Security Division, said there is still hope that the Senate will relent and benefits will be extended. She said her staff will continue to take claims for extended benefits with the hope that an extension passes soon.
"As always, we encourage job seekers to visit a JobConnect office for employment and training services and referrals to potential job openings," Jones said. "Other than that, they would need to seek assistance with other local and state social service agencies."
Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 14 percent; 189,300 people were out of work in May.
Many unemployed people already have exhausted the maximum possible 99 weeks of benefits, still are jobless and haven't gotten a check for months.
About 120,000 residents now are receiving benefits under either a state or federal program, according to Worthey. About 69,000 unemployed people already must get by without a check.
Those denied jobless benefits shouldn't expect any help from the state, according to Gov. Jim Gibbons' spokesman, Daniel Burns. He said the state, which is having a tough time dealing with its own fiscal crisis, is not in a position to provide additional benefits.
"This is a 100 percent federal manner," he said. "The governor has been to JobConnect offices. He has seen the faces of these people. You can't go to a JobConnect office and tell these people it is their fault. Some of the people in Congress need to go talk to people in unemployment offices. They might feel a lot different."
Burns suggested people losing unemployment benefits call their representatives in Congress.
As it is now, the Nevada Employment Security Division must borrow from the federal Department of Labor just to pay the 26 weeks of state benefits that laid-off workers receive before getting federal extended benefits.
Worthey said that loan is $300 million and could reach $1 billion by the end of the year. Unless Congress changes the law, the state ultimately must pay back this loan.
Unemployed people are required to call the Employment Security Division once a week. Worthey said they will be told when they will receive their final checks.
Jessie Gallardo, 59, was surfing the Internet looking for work Friday afternoon at the JobConnect in Las Vegas. His last job was for the Wynn and Encore cleaning pools. His unemployment benefits will run out in six weeks.
He said he's not panicking because he's got some money saved up, although "It's not going to last forever."
Gallardo considers himself lucky because he doesn't have a wife or children to support. He said if he can't find work soon he might try his luck out of state.
He said the last 16 months without a job have been difficult for him mentally.
"To me, it's like welfare," he said of collecting unemployment pay. "But I ain't going to run it down because it's money in my pocket."
One successful job seeker at the JobConnect office in Carson City offered a grim prediction of Nevada's future, if the government doesn't resume benefits.
"We are going to have tent city, long lines at welfare offices, bread lines before long," said Keith Montegna.
He said that after 10 months of looking, including moving from California to Michigan and then Minnesota and finally to Carson City, he found two warehouse jobs on the same day.
"They set the pay," said Montegna, who said he had been making $63,000 a year working in a warehouse but now will settle for $14 an hour.
"A lot of people think going on unemployment is like taking a vacation. I lost a lot of pride taking food stamps. ... It is pretty scary being without a job."