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La. lawmakers reject unemployment pay increase as state trust fund dwindles

8 months 6 days 16 hours ago Monday, October 12 2020 Oct 12, 2020 October 12, 2020 5:50 PM October 12, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A spirited rally of furloughed workers did nothing to sway the vote for a bill that could have increased unemployment pay Monday.

The bill, authored by Representative Duplessis, would have added an additional hundred dollars on top of the $247 weekly payout already in place--one of the lowest rates in the country. It's unsurvivable for people like Latonya Howard, who was a longtime employee at the convention center in New Orleans until the pandemic hit.

"At the age of 49, I didn't think I would be moving back in with my elderly mother. Because I can't support my family. And I have children that are looking up to me, and I don't have the answers for them right now," Howard said.

Howard's emotional testimony was met with a brief opposition from LABI.

"Certainly understand the reason for the authors bringing it before the committee, certainly appreciate the conversation, but this is just not the time," Jim Patterson said.

The timing of the bill is important, seeing as how the state's unemployment trust fund is already almost depleted due to the effects of the pandemic. But those who are feeling the effects the most say the people whose salaries are funded by tax payer dollars just don't get it.

"The people who voted 'no' don't really understand where we're coming from or the day-to-day struggles or the sacrifices that we make just to try and make ends meet," unemployed worker Montrell McGraw said.

"When you have to choose between paying rent and feeding your family? $247 is not enough," Howard said.

HB 93, a separate bill that would create a workshare program which allows employers to reduce their employees number of hours instead of just laying them off, did pass in comittee.

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