Barbour and a group of Southern Republican governors made a show of saying no to the unemployment money, an obvious political slap as President Barack Obama was attempting to lay out the administration’s budget and economic plans.
More level-headed Republican governors – or maybe less politically driven – like California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger were quick to take all federal money available for their struggling states. But political ambitions seem to have a way of clouding reason as governors like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal look toward 2012.
Barbour complains that Mississippi would have to expand its unemployment benefits to those who work part-time. Now it is only available to full-time employees who lose their job for no fault of their own. He claims the state would have to increase unemployment taxes on businesses to cover the costs after the federal money runs out.
Of course, there is nothing preventing Mississippi from rolling back the benefit, although the expansion makes sense.
Mississippi has the worst unemployment benefits in the nation. The opposition of business and manufacturing lobbyists at the Legislature to any hikes in the meager benefit is frenzied overkill. It’s a lot of political power put into beating down the weakest, downtrodden families in Mississippi. It has always seemed irrational to me.
There are no downsides to putting $52 million to help those who have lost their jobs put food on the table and have that money turning over in the state economy. Barbour is just dead wrong. The Legislature should override the decision, as it can under th e federal law.