FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: August 5, 2020
COLLINS’ PROPOSAL AMOUNTS TO PANDEMIC PAY CUT FOR MAINE FAMILIES RELYING ON UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE TO GET BY
Instead of Listening to Mainers who are Calling on Senator Collins to Extend the $600 a-Week Unemployment Insurance Income, Collins’ Proposal Will Cut Incomes for Maine Families in the Midst of the Pandemic Crisis
Dan Adams, Garland, ME: “I went from working 60-80 hours a week to nothing. What I receive with the weekly $600 benefit is what I normally would get paid and if it goes away, I don’t know what will happen and I’m scared to find out.”
Portland, MAINE — Mainers are calling on Senator Susan Collins to reinstate the $600/week unemployment insurance (UI) compensation that has proven to be vital income both for struggling families, and Maine’s economy. But instead of listening to Mainers and pushing to pass the extension of UI proposed by the House, Collins says the extension doesn’t “make sense” and co-sponsored proposed legislation that amounts to a pandemic pay cut for tens of thousands of Maine families who have been relying on the income from UI to make ends meet.
“Maine families can’t afford to have their incomes cut as the pandemic crisis is only getting worse, and the economic indicators are all going in the wrong direction,” said Willy Ritch, executive director of 16 Counties Coalition. “If Susan Collins is really listening to Mainers, she would know that what Maine families need right now is a stable income. But instead, Senator Collins is proposing a pandemic pay cut that will put Maine families, and our state’s economy, in jeopardy.”
Collins has blamed the lack of bipartisanship for the protracted debate, yet she continues to echo McConnell’s partisan, anti-worker and deficit-hawk talking points in staunch opposition to UI, and refused to push for the House bill, saying it is “dead on arrival”. In addition, several months ago the House passed a bipartisan bill which would have continued the UI payments — which McConnell has blocked in the Senate. And a recent NPR/Ipsos poll found that 63% of Americans “want federal unemployment benefits extended, even if it means more government debt.”
In contrast, Maine Senator Angus King, who estimated that the loss of income from the failure to extend UI could cost Maine’s economy $30 million dollars a week, called out Majority Leader McConnell for the Senate’s inaction.
A report by the Maine Center for Economic Policy estimates indicates this move could hurt 182,000 Mainers — including 46,000 children, and cost the state an additional 18,000 jobs.
In addition to hurting Maine families that continue to struggle as the pandemic continues, recent reports have also illustrated how loss of unemployment income will ripple through Maine’s broader economy, showing that “If that federal money were stopped, it would mean less money spent in grocery stores or getting takeout or more people not being able to afford rent.”
Senator Collins has claimed employers reported the $600 a-week- unemployment income is hurting their ability to retain and hire employees, yet a recent survey shows that over 80% of small business owners who responded said the unemployment income had no impact on retention or hiring. Lastly, a recent study by economists at Yale found “no evidence that the enhanced jobless benefits Congress authorized in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic reduced employment.”
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About the 16 Counties Coalition
The 16 Counties Coalition is a year-long grassroots advocacy campaign aimed at amplifying the voices of families and working Mainers and encouraging Senator Susan Collins to vote in favor of the people she was elected to represent and defend. The campaign will mobilize members through small- and large-scale events, through digital action, and paid television, radio, and digital ads.
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