Missouri lawmakers vote to slash unemployment benefits

The Missouri House on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to a plan that would cut the amount of time people can claim jobless benefits to one of the shortest periods in the country.

Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, proposed the measure, which would shorten the benefits period for laid-off workers from 20 weeks to 13 weeks if the unemployment rate is below 6 percent.

Missouri’s unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in December, according to the most recent available data provided by the Department of Economic Development.

Fitzpatrick, who also is the House budget leader, said the change is needed to stabilize the state’s unemployment fund.

Democrats called the measure unnecessary and mean-spirited, especially when deep-red states like Alabama and Texas offer 26 weeks of benefits and higher compensation.

Another veto is unlikely under new Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, who during his campaign criticized the current welfare system as a hindrance to people finding jobs.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Southeast Missourian

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