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Unemployed worry about bills; questions hover over executive orders

BATON ROUGE - There are unanswered questions about what's next following President Donald Trump's executive orders on stimulus payments, unemployment, and evictions.

Monday, 2 On Your Side spoke with a man whose life has been turned upside down since the start of the pandemic and could use some answers. Will Mulligan says the last few months have been some of the most challenging of his life.

"I've lost everything," Mulligan said.

He was laid off from his job as Food and Beverage Director at the Hilton Hotel in March. Ever since, there's been a struggle.

"Financially it's ruined me and it's ruined my credit," he said.

On top of the unemployment and financial concerns, his health has been compromised. He's had two strokes in the last couple of months and is now taking multiple medications. At first, Mulligan was receiving unemployment benefits and was able to pay his bills. Recently he's learned that his new unemployment insurance benefit is zero dollars.

"I don't know if there could be any more stress out there for me but it keeps adding up every day," Mulligan said.

Saturday, President Trump announced four executive orders after Congress failed to agree. One order includes extending federal unemployment payments at $400 a week to help with the fallout of the pandemic. The plan requires a state to provide a quarter of that and the Edwards administration says it's still doing research. Last week, Governor Edwards mentioned his concerns about the unemployment insurance trust fund dipping too low.

"That trust fund started out at the beginning of March with about $1.1 billion in it, and it's down to $270 million," Edwards said. "We can't pay benefits if the funds are insolvent."

If the funds dip below $100 million, Edwards says Louisiana will have to borrow money from the federal government to replenish funds to continue to pay state unemployment benefits. That could happen as early as September.

Monday afternoon, the White House said the unemployment benefit money will be available to states in the next week or so. In a news conference, President Trump mentioned terminating the 25-percent addition of unemployment benefits but also said that it depends on each state. Governor Edwards' office told WBRZ the governor was expected to be on a call with the president Monday and hoped to learn more then.

President Trump also signed an order regarding evictions, which allows for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide assistance to keep people in their homes. Mulligan says his building is giving him a bit of time before it tries to evict him, but he's worried about what's next as he continues to search for work.

"I served in the United States Navy and for the president of the U.S. during Katrina, I built homes in St. Charles and you're going to put me on the street because you're not making enough money off a building that was built from my tax dollars?" Mulligan said.

Congress is back in Washington for another week to try to agree on numbers, including a possible second stimulus check. Mulligan says the money would help, but he never received his first stimulus check.

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