No tax hikes, benefit drops for Louisiana unemployment fund

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Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, center, gestures as he talks with Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, left, the governor’s chief budget adviser, and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, right, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. The three men, all members of the Revenue Estimating Conference, spoke ahead of the conference’s meeting. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The steep drop in Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund balance during the coronavirus outbreak won’t trigger a decline in benefits for jobless workers or tax hikes on businesses.

The House unanimously gave final passage Tuesday to measures by Senate President Page Cortez and Sen. Mike Reese that will keep the unemployment benefits and tax rates on businesses that pay into the fund at the status quo through 2021.

The Senate already had unanimously agreed to the proposals, so Tuesday’s votes were the last needed.

However, lawmakers haven’t found a long-term fix to refilling the fund drained during the pandemic. Louisiana started borrowing federal money this month to pay jobless benefits.

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