Louisiana becomes first Democrat-led state to opt out of federal unemployment benefits

Louisiana becomes first Democrat-led state to opt out of federal unemployment benefits
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Louisiana on Tuesday became the first Democratic-led state to opt out of enhanced federal unemployment benefits.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed a bill on Wednesday that boosted the state’s maximum weekly unemployment benefits to $275, while also mandating federal pandemic unemployment benefits end by July 31.

Republican state officials and business organizations had previously agreed to back the $28 increase to Louisiana’s maximum weekly unemployment benefits, according to The Associated Press.

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They added a provision, however, that set a condition for the unemployment benefit spike: that the checks could only be increased if the governor agreed to end the $300 supplemental federal pandemic unemployment benefit by July 31, the AP reported, which is weeks earlier than the original Sept. 6 date.

Edwards ultimately agreed to the stipulation and signed the bill on Tuesday, making him the first Democratic governor to end the benefits before they are mandated to phase out, according to The Advocate.

Last week, after the state legislative session ended, Edwards revealed that he was already considering ending the supplemental federal benefits in August, saying that the end of July “doesn’t seem like a bad compromise,” according to the AP.

He reportedly said he was attempting to find a “reasonable balance” between aiding the jobless and helping businesses, some of which have said they are having a difficult time hiring employees, the AP noted.

At least half of the states in the U.S., all led by Republican governors, have announced plans to eliminate federal unemployment benefits.

Alaska, Iowa, Missouri and Mississippi became the first to do so on Saturday, ending federal assistance for nearly 340,000 workers.

The Hill has reached out to Edwards for comment.