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While some legislators say the session was largely a waste of taxpayer dollars, others pointed to their work regarding COVID-19, hurricane recovery and the unemployment insurance trust fund to argue otherwise.
“Many people in this building, some members of the press, have said we didn’t accomplish much this session,” Sen. Ronnie Johns said Friday. “I beg to differ.”
Johns hails from southwest Louisiana, which was hit by two major hurricanes this year. He thanked his colleagues for diverting $20 million in savings to start repairs at McNeese State University and SOWELA Technical Community College, sending $1.4 million to local governments in three hurricane-ravaged parishes, ensuring school districts where large numbers of students have not yet returned home won’t lose state funding, and for allowing graduating seniors who will finish high school outside the state to be eligible for state-funded college scholarships.
Legislators passed three measures that, taken together, will prevent the higher business taxes and benefit reductions that otherwise would kick in when the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund balance runs low. The fund, which held more than $1 billion before the COVID-19 pandemic began, has been sapped by unprecedented demand.
Louisiana, like many other states, is forced to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to pay legally required unemployment benefits. While lawmakers were able to find $85 million to shore up the fund, a long-term solution was not identified.
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