Thursday, May 29, 2008

Special Session Update...

Yesterday, the House passed two bills. HB 12 provided $88 million in bond authorizations in case Mississippi is chosen as the site for the National Bio Defense Lab. If chosen, the lab would locate in Flora, MS. There's expected to be around 250 jobs, mostly going to researchers in the field.

The other bill was SB 2011, which would raise the weekly unemployment compensation from $210 to $255 over the course of two years. The original Senate bill would have raised the unemployment payments to $225 in the upcoming FY 09, and then to $235 in FY 10. However, the House amended the bill to raise it $45 over two years and then provide an annual cost-of-living increase.

One of the common misconceptions of unemployment compensation is that it equates to welfare payments to those people who don't want to work. Actually, unemployment compensation is only paid out to those people who were laid off (note "laid off", as opposed to "fired"...if you were fired, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits) because of their plant closing, moving to Mexico, etc.

However, I think the smarter thing to have done was to use the Senate's version and raise it incrementally over two years to $235 and then revisit the issue again. When debate was going on, no one supporting the bill could answer the question of how much this was going to cost the unemployment trust fund. That in itself was really ironic, seeing as though we were asking the same questions two months ago, and they said they would get back to us. Well, here we are two months later, and they still can't tell us how much it's going to cost to raise it to $255 per week. So....

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