Kentucky will apply for the $300 in additional unemployment benefits offered by the federal government, Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday.
The state will also use federal coronavirus relief funds to add $100 to that amount, bringing the new weekly supplement to $400 — down from the original $600 originally paid for by the federal government.
“While there are still some uncertainty in this new program, it is just too important to get these dollars to our families,” Beshear said.
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The state currently plans to pay the $400 weekly benefits boost for a three-week period.
Those receiving unemployment benefits for weeks between July 26 and Aug. 15 will be eligible.
That timeline picks up where the $600 benefit, which Congress approved in March and let expire in late July, ended.
While Beshear said he expects the state’s application to be approved within 48 to 72 hours, the state will need about two weeks to update its computer system to be able to pay out the $400.
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Unemployment filers can expect to receive the $400 payments in early September.
Kentucky will apply Thursday for the federal dollars, which were part of an Aug. 8 memorandum issued by President Donald Trump after negotiations broke down over a new COVID-19 relief bill.
Trump’s memorandum provided a maximum of $400, with states needing to contribute 25% of the cost.
Wednesday’s announcement is a departure from comments Beshear made last week in which he said the president’s plan was “not workable in its current form” noting that some states, including Kentucky, couldn’t afford to cover their share.
The governor has said the Trump administration and federal officials were slow to provide guidance on how the the memorandum would work, particularly with respect to the cost-sharing provision.
On Monday, Beshear said his administration had put together a draft of the application, but he wanted to more fully understand the rules before submitting it.
In a letter to Beshear on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the governor to apply for the federal aid, saying that the state could either solely apply for the $300 or use some remaining coronavirus relief package dollars to bring the total up to $400.
“I believe the only way Kentuckians can lose is if our state sits this out altogether,” he wrote.
Seven states have been approved for the $300, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration, Beshear said Wednesday.
Kentucky is the first to apply with the intention to provide the additional $100, he said, though he knew of two other states also considering the $400 level.
Looking beyond the three weeks of bolstered payments, Beshear said he fully intends to add weeks, though an extension will depend on a few factors, including for how long the federal FEMA funding lasts.
With a cap on the program at $44 billion, The New York Times reports that if all states signed up, the program could only cover five or six weeks of benefits.
Indeed, FEMA guidance notes that states with approved grant applications will only receive three weeks of funding to start. Further disbursements “will be made on a weekly basis in order to ensure that funding remains available for the states who apply for the grant assistance.”
The governor also said further unemployment relief could be affected by a possible compromise reached by Congress, which is set to resume in September.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky is planning to implement a $400 unemployment supplement in September