Kansas receives $63 million in FEMA Unemployment Funds

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Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 3:33 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly has announced that Kansas will receive $63 million in FEMA Unemployment funding.

Governor Laura Kelly says her administration’s grant application for FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance program was federally approved and awarded $63 million to help Kansans that have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I appreciate the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its quick response to my administration’s application, and for making these funds available to those who need them throughout our state and nation,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “We will work to distribute these dollars as quickly and efficiently as possible to keep Kansas families in their homes and food on their tables.  However, it is still critically important for Congress to create a coherent strategy and act on a long-term solution for those who have found themselves unable to work due to the pandemic’s impact on our economy.”

“The LWA program’s $63 million will deliver much-needed benefits to Kansans who are out of work,” Acting Secretary of Labor Ryan Wright said. “However, this program is not a permanent solution, and during these difficult times we implore Congress to come together and act to fund permanent unemployment solutions for all individuals and families in need across the country.”

According to Gov. Kelly, the program is limited in scope and, due to federal restrictions, will only be available to those receiving at least $100 in unemployment benefits. She said the implementation of the LWA program will take several weeks to do, and the Kansas Department of Labor estimates that claimants will begin seeing benefits no sooner than late September.

Gov. Kelly said, unlike the $600 a week Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that expired in July, a claimant must self certify their unemployment or partial unemployment is due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She said for those that are eligible, payments will be retroactive to the week ending Aug. 1, and will remain effective until FEMA ends the program.

According to the Governor, on Aug. 8, President Donald Trump issued an executive memorandum authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expend up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund to provide lost wage assistance to Americans receiving unemployment benefits.

Gov. Kelly said she proposed the $400 option for LWA as a way to put additional money into the hands of unemployed Kansans. She said on Sept. 2, the SPARK Taskforce agreed to the proposal and to spending $63 million in CARES Act funds to assist Kansans. She said on Sept. 3, legislative leaders on the State Finance Council rejected the proposal and in response, she ordered the KDOL to apply for the $300 option. She said the reduced amount will not require SPARK or SFC approval to implement.

According to Gov. Kelly, the KDOL has paid out more than two million weekly claims totaling over $1.8 billion between regular unemployment and the federal pandemic programs since March 15.

For more information, or to apply for benefits, visit the KDOL’s website.

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