The legislature Monday completed action on legislation to reduce the maximum weeks of unemployment benefits from 20 to 16 weeks. The bill also will dock workers for two weeks of severance pay should they happen to get some.
It’s but one of many measures this session aimed at grinding the poor, under the theory that protecting corporations and the wealthy will eventually trickle down benefits on others. Other standout proposals include a state cap on benefits for permanent total disability.
The unemployment legislation will move Arkansas to the fifth-stingiest state in unemployment benefits. A recent review by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities puts Florida on the bottom at 12 weeks, with Missouri and North Carolina at 13 and Georgia at 14. Sen. Jim Hendren, a sponsor, said he was hopeful employers’ savings — they are also getting a tax cut in the bill — would pass along savings to employees in higher wages.
If grinding the poor is good for Arkansas, why pay ANY unemployment compensation? Or provide medical coverage to working poor? Or feed their children? All these things are disincentives to honest toil, right?
Look at labor law for the wisdom of building an economy on punishing workers. Arkansas passed a Right to Work law 60 years ago. We’ve zoomed up to 48th in per capita income since then.