Rep. Steve Mascaro, R-West Jordan, says he is preparing a bill that would immediately allow Utah to take advantage of up to $61 million in federal aid to worker unemployment payments.

"The federal Senate is considering adding money to state unemployment benefits," said Mascaro. "And we want to get that money into Utahns' hands as quickly as possible."

Mascaro said his resolution must mirror whatever Congress does, and while discussions are still up in the air, he believes that some part-time workers who have lost their jobs, or others who were outside current unemployment benefits, could qualify under Congress' expanded benefit provisions.

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The Senate is expected to act on President Barack Obama's now-$900 billion economic stimulus package by week's end. And increasing unemployment benefits to the states is part of that discussion. After the Senate acts, the bill must go back to the House for another vote, and some congressmen say the package's cost must be trimmed.

Mascaro said $61 million would come to Utah in $20 million allotments and could accommodate Utah's increased unemployment benefits for up to five years.