DeGazon pushes to extend unemployment benefits
Out of concern Sen. Allison L. DeGazon is proposing legislation to assist the vulnerable portion of the community currently relying on unemployment assistance during hard times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The submitted legislation is an act authorizing the Government of the Virgin Islands to borrow 3 million from the Unemployment Trust Fund to fulfill the local match obligation so qualified persons can continue to receive additional unemployment benefits.
President Donald Trump in August signed an executive order that extends enhanced federal unemployment payments at $300 per week — down from a previous $600 — but only if states cover 25% of those costs despite major local budget shortfalls for states. The federal government previously covered the full cost of the $600 supplement that expired in July.
Some states are using an idea similar to the senator’s proposal, by seeking a loan from the U.S. Treasury to sustain payments through October.
The unemployment rate in the Virgin Islands rose from 4.9 percent in January to 13.6 percent in May after forced lockdowns and business closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. DOL also noted that in April, they received well over 4,000 unemployment applications with more expected.
“This is the time to show our residents who are eligible for unemployment that we understand they have obligations to meet and families to support,” DeGazon said.
This legislation proves Senator DeGazon is in sync with her community and is always ready to act on their behalf. She is calling on her colleagues to support the measure and keep money circulating in the territory.