Michigan bill to end extra $300 unemployment benefit likely faces veto

The Legislature passed the bill Thursday, but Gov. Whitmer likely will veto it to continue paying the benefit
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 3:32 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republican lawmakers have voted to stop a $300 weekly federal supplement that is added to unemployed workers’ benefits in Michigan.

However, the measure is expected to be vetoed when it reaches Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Michigan House passed the bill last week. The Senate passed the bill on party lines, 19-16, Thursday.

Supporters say the $300 pandemic benefit, which is on top of the maximum state benefit of $362 a week, discourages people from rejoining the workforce. The $662 maximum weekly unemployment benefit in Michigan equates to about $16.55 per hour for a 40-hour work week.

The Michigan Retailers Association supports cutting off the additional unemployment benefit early because businesses are struggling to find enough workers after they returned to full capacity on Tuesday.

“Retailers have waited over a year to operate at 100% capacity but need employees to help meet that demand,” said William J. Hallan, president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association. “We welcome the legislature’s recent action to reject the $300 federal pandemic unemployment benefit that is keeping some workers at home.”

Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, agreed that additional unemployment pay was necessary earlier in the pandemic, when tens of thousands of hospitality workers were out of a job. But he believes the situation has changed entirely.

“We now live in a restriction-free Michigan with an abundance of safe and effective vaccines, yet restaurateurs and hoteliers are unable to fill the innumerable openings at wages rising at twice the rate of any other industry,” Winslow said.

He said the $300 federal unemployment benefit represents the final economic restriction holding back restaurants and hotels from fully reopening. The association hopes Whitmer signs the bill and ends the extra jobless benefits in Michigan.

“Even at 100% occupancy, thousands of restaurants remain closed for shifts and in many cases entire days because they cannot recruit and retain sufficient staffing levels, and many hotels are leaving available rooms empty for the same reason,” Winslow said.

The federal unemployment benefit is scheduled to end Sept. 4. Democrats say money should not be taken from people struggling to find work.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.