Beshear: Unemployment action ‘not workable’ in current form

Beshear: Unemployment action ‘not workable’ in current form
Gov. Andy Beshear, 63rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky (Source: Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Democratic governor on Monday called President Donald Trump’s action extending an expired unemployment benefit “not workable” in its current form, warning it would push some costs onto states already left cash-strapped by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Andy Beshear stressed that his critique of Trump’s weekend executive action wasn’t meant as a rebuke of the Republican president, who remains popular in the Bluegrass State.

“My motivation today is not to criticize,” Beshear said during a conference call. “And it is not to suggest that the president’s executive order wasn’t intended to help. But simply to make the point that it’s not workable in its current form.”

The president wants to continue paying a supplemental federal unemployment benefit for millions of Americans put out of work during the outbreak. But his order called for up to $400 payments each week, compared with the $600 that people had been receiving. Trump said states would cover 25% of this money even as many are dealing with major budget shortfalls.

States can’t afford to assume $100 per person per week, Beshear said. For Kentucky, that would amount to tens of millions of dollars each month, he said.

States also could be hit by administrative costs in making adjustments that could further slow the processing of unemployment aid, the governor said.

“When we make major changes in where dollars come from or how they have to be handled, that can take weeks to months that our people don’t have,” he said.

Beshear urged Congress to end its stalemate on another coronavirus relief package and extend the full $600 supplemental payment.

“I think it’s really important that we see, ultimately, a congressional solution,” the governor said. “I would like to see it at that $600 level. But if it’s at $400, it needs to be fully federally funded with administrative costs attached to it.”