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Kansas Senate approves resolution urging governor to end federal unemployment benefits

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 11:30 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update: During the state legislature’s last session on Wednesday, both the House and the Senate passed a resolution urging Gov. Laura Kelly to end federal unemployment benefits to Kansans currently out of work.

The resolution states Kansas’ unemployment rate is around 3.5 percent, which is actually lower than the average from 2016 to 2019.

With ‘Help Wanted’ signs on almost every corner, some lawmakers say that means there are still plenty of jobs and Kansans need to get back to work.

Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican from Butler County, co-sponsored the resolution calling for the extra pay to come to an end.

“The intentions, I think, were good at the beginning, and the need was there. But we’re at the point where this extra program has become a perverse incentive to our employment,” he said.

Lawmakers who oppose the resolution say Kansans receiving federal unemployment benefits are older, skilled workers who are not able to find jobs in the same industries with similar pay to what they had before. They also say it’s a complex process with Kansans worrying about things like childcare, liveable wages and benefits.

”These federal benefits are specifically for those older, technical workers who are frantically scrambling around trying to find some reasonable employment similar to what they used to do prior to COVID,” said Sen Tom Holland, a Democrat of Douglas County.

The federal payments are set to end in September. If Gov. Kelly were to end them early, she must provide a 30-day notice. She has said she will continute to monitor the situation in the coming months.

The Kansas Senate approved a resolution on Wednesday urging Governor Laura Kelly to end federal pandemic unemployment compensation. The vote passed 27-11.

The resolution is not binding but calls on the governor to end the weekly payment of $300 provided by the federal pandemic unemployment assistance program.

Republican lawmakers who introduced the measure say private businesses are now competing with the federal government to fill thousands of jobs. Those who are opposed to ending the extra payments sight low wages and lack of childcare as a few reasons why people are not filling the available positions.

Gov. Kelly has stated that she will continue monitoring the situation closely over the coming months.

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