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Vt. Senate greenlights bill to expand unemployment benefits

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 4:31 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Senate has given the greenlight to a bill that would expand unemployment benefits for people affected by the pandemic.

Lawmakers have been debating and pushing back votes on the bill for weeks, but Tuesday it passed 18-12.

The bill provides a $50 a week payment for Vermonters with kids and leaves out a 20% increase in weekly unemployment benefits. It also defers increases in unemployment tax rates for businesses for a year.

The bill has a long way to go before it hits the governor’s desk, but he says he doesn’t want businesses to be negatively affected.

“Right now we need relief for the businesses that are going to be on the hook,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

Some businesses worry that along with federal unemployment benefits, the proposal would disincentivize people coming back for work.

Scott plans to reinstate the work requirement next month but says it hinges on vaccinating more people and finding child care options.

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