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Ark. House panel rejects unemployment benefit cut

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A House panel has rejected legislation that would have cut the maximum amount of unemployment benefits paid out by Arkansas.

The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Monday rejected a bill by Republican Sen. Bart Hester of Cave Springs that would have cut the maximum weekly benefits the state pays out from $451 to $325. The Senate approved the cut last week.

Hester said the move was needed to keep Arkansas' benefits in line with surrounding states. Supporters also said the cut was needed to keep the state's unemployment trust fund solvent.

Opponents, however, say cutting the benefits would hurt the state's unemployed and their families as the state is recovering from the economic downturn.