Cutting off the extra federal payments going to unemployed Kentuckians would hurt the state’s economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.
The Democratic governor said he’s willing to consider ending the weekly $300 federal unemployment payment eventually but quickly added: “That doesn’t mean we will.” The extra money is set to expire in September.
The Bluegrass State’s most powerful Republican, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, criticized the extra federal benefits Monday. He said governors are “having to clean up this mess” as many businesses struggle to find workers. Meanwhile, two GOP state lawmakers urged Beshear to terminate the supplemental payments, saying the benefit is contributing to a labor shortage.
Beshear said he’s trying to “thread the needle” of maintaining the extra federal payments that pump tens of millions of dollars into the state’s economy each week while encouraging people to go back to work as the economy fully reopens.
Much of the extra money is spent at grocery stores and other retail businesses, the governor said.