Virginia GOP Senate lays out back to work bonus proposal

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 2:30 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - All around the greater metro-Richmond area, the signs are everywhere you go, businesses saying help wanted and apply within.

“We can do that by stopping an unemployment program that actually encourages people not to work into a program that actually encourages them to get a job,” said State Senator Steve Newman, (R) 23rd District.

Now, Virginia Senate Republicans are trying to fix that labor problem with a $1,500 check. They’re proposing giving workers currently receiving supplemental federal unemployment payments a one-time bonus after they return to work, provided they stay employed for at least six weeks.

The $300, enhanced federal unemployment benefits end Sept. 6.

“Maybe they’re still having difficulty finding childcare. That extra money that they normally wouldn’t get does make it a little bit easier to stay at home,” said Nicole Riley, Virginia State Director, National Federation of Independent Business.

Other GOP-controlled states are offering similar bonuses to get people off government help and start taking a lot of those help wanted jobs out there.

83% of Virginia restaurants are looking for employees. The National Federation of Independent Businesses says 44% of its members are having the same issue.

“This is a significant problem for business owners in particular small business owners who may not have the resources large companies do for large big signing bonuses,” said Riley.

Under the GOP proposal, the money for the bonuses would come from the state’s portion of the American Rescue Plan Act. And that would require a change to the budget with Democrats in charge.

“I think the governor needs to pull us into session. I think it needs to happen in the next couple of weeks so that we can actually stop this problem,” said Senator Newman.

But not so fast, this would take Governor Ralph Northam to call for a special session of the Virginia General Assembly. And by gauging the general response from some democrats today who did not want to go on camera, and a lack of response from the governor’s office, this idea likely won’t get off the ground.

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