A bill to raise New York's unemployment benefits, which allow a maximum payout of $430/week ($150 less than states like NJ and Connecticut), has died on the vine. Despite support from Governor Paterson, labor leaders and many lawmakers, the highly dysfunctional Senate seems incapable of passing the bill, which would have raised maximum weekly jobless benefits on July 1st to $625, and close the gap in the state’s unemployment trust fund. According to the Times, it's as good as dead, because apparently the Assembly is not currently scheduled to convene until January. Meanwhile, the state’s Labor Department reports that more New Yorkers were out of work than at any time in more than 30 years; last month the jobless rate hit 7.8% (in NYC, the rate is 8.1%). Advocate for the unemployed Andrew Stettner says, "It’s a big problem that we’ve fallen so short in terms of not doing this. What was nice about this legislation was it got the benefits out during the recession and it had a plan for paying back the fund over several years. It was a smart approach." Ah, but Albany doesn't really do smart approaches.