The Greenwood Commonwealth, 5/29/8

It wasn’t a pretty way for the House to get at the root problem of Mississippi’s ridiculously low weekly benefits for jobless workers to tie up the State Employment Service agency’s re-enactment with an amendment aimed at stopping state ad money going to right-wing radio talk shows. But it seems to have worked.

Gov. Haley Barbour, who three years ago cut the payroll tax Mississippi employers pay into the Unemployment Trust Fund but blocked any increase in the state’s lowest-in-the-nation maximum weekly jobless workers’ benefits, last weekend quietly slipped into his legislative special session agenda the issue of raising unemployment benefits.

Before adjourning for a long weekend, the Senate quickly passed a bill at least raising Mississippi’s $210 weekly unemployment maximum by $15, and another $10 next year. That would only raise Mississippi’s weekly maximum equal to Alabama’s, the next lowest state, at least until Alabama increased its in the meantime.