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More governors opting out of pandemic unemployment benefits

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BATON ROUGE – More governors across the nation have decided to opt out of pandemic unemployment aid Tuesday, and John Bel Edwards is not one of them. His office, along with the Louisiana Workforce Commission, says there’s been no talk about it yet.

Pressure to do so is building as the state’s U.S. senators say the incentive is too generous. Business owners can’t find people to take the jobs.

“You can’t blame the people not showing up. They are making more money not working than they are working,” U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy said.

Cassidy argues the only way to emerge from the great financial crises is to cut back the enhanced pandemic aid.

“So if our governor and our legislature find that this is a disincentive to work and that people can make just the same amount of money if they actually go to work, then they should pursue that path,” Cassidy said.

U.S. Senator John Kennedy said the decision is ultimately up to the governor and lawmakers. He thinks the incentives were too generous from the start.

“The House and the Senate, in some of its unemployment benefits, went to far. I tried to amend the very first coronavirus bill to eliminate the $600-dollar-per-week payment,” Kennedy said.

Businesses have been struggling to hire employees and have pointed to the extra unemployment aid as the cause. At Drago's in Baton Rouge, the owner said last year he had 194 employees. This year he’s down to 110.

“I'm not going to say we need to stop giving that money early. I’m simply saying we've got to do something,” Tommy Cvitanovich said.

Cvitanovich is offering an incentive to current employees. If they bring in a referral, they will get a bonus based on how long they stay at the job.

“It’s a tough situation, because we’re burning out our employees. We’re begging them to work doubles and work as many shift as they can," Cvitanovich said. "Obviously, they are getting overtime and extra tips.  But at the end of the day, people need a quality of life as well."

On Mother’s Day, Cvitanovich was not able to provide any to-go orders at Dragos because he didn’t have enough staff.


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