#NMLEG Progressive Bill of the Day | 03-17-15 (Cuts to Unemployment Benefits Defeated)

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Throughout this session we’ve mentioned multiple times the outrageous attempts by House Republicans to push through extreme anti-worker legislation that would harm New Mexico families: so-called “right-to-work” bills, reducing corporate income tax rates, making it harder for disabled workers to collect benefits, etc.

One of the bills advocates for working families have been particularly concerned about is the attempt to cut unemployment insurance benefits for out-of-work New Mexicans. Carried by Republican Representative Larry Larrañaga, HB 482 would have cut “an individual claimant’s weekly benefit from 53.5 percent to 45 percent of the average weekly wage earned in the highest quarter of the claimant’s base period.”

Proponents of the bill claimed that it would bring the state’s unemployment insurance fund to solvency. There was one big problem in that argument, however: the state’s unemployment fund is already solvent.

Thankfully, last night, the full House of Representatives voted Rep. Larrañaga’s bill down 25-39.

Here’s what the House Democrats had to say after the bill was defeated on the House floor:

“The Unemployment Insurance Trust is working exactly as it was intended to work,” said Representative Eliseo Lee Alcon. “When our state economy is low, the unemployment trust pumps money into our economy, this ensures that our families and small businesses stay afloat when times are tough. Many years ago, I too was laid-off and unemployment insurance helped my family get by during those tough times – but it was very hard.  With the price of oil going down almost daily, this bill would have cut unemployment benefits when oil field workers face an uncertain future. I know times are still tough for many New Mexicans in my district, which is why I voted against this bill. What we have seen here on the floor of our House of Representatives is what we were all sent here to do – to ensure that laws that would hurt working families do not become law. I am very proud of every one of my colleagues on each side of the aisle that stood up for New Mexico’s working families.”