Jobless: Barbour’s grandstanding

The political standoff between the House leadership and Gov. Haley Barbour over his refusal to accept federal stimulus funds to expand unemployment benefits makes for interesting political theater. But there is a broader question Mississippians should answer:

Are we being fair to the jobless?

In today’s Perspective, Public Policy Center of Mississippi executive director Warren Yoder argues that it’s past time Mississippi raise and expand the state’s unemployment benefits and that the additional stimulus funds should be the catalyst for that policy change.

House Labor Committee Chairman Rufus Straughter, D-Belzoni, said $56 million in federal stimulus money for the unemployment benefits would aid 40,000 additional people during the next four years.

But getting the money means the state would have to amend the way unemployment is determined to include pay and time worked closer to the actual time of termination, along with expanding eligibility.