House Leadership calls on Gov. Kelly to end additional federal unemployment benefits

Kansas employers have been unsuccessful in finding employees to fill open positions
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 3:01 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas House Leadership claims Governor Laura Kelly is holding Kansas back by continuing the state’s participation in additional federal unemployment benefits.

After almost 200 businesses sent a letter urging Governor Laura Kelly to end Kansas’ participation in additional federal unemployment benefits, which adds $300 per week to federal pandemic unemployment claims, House Leadership claims that she is holding the state back.

“Governor Kelly continues to hold Kansas back. Her policies have put us dead last in everything from unemployment system security to vaccine distribution,” said Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe), Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita) and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa). “We cannot afford to be dead last in our economic recovery. We join with Kansas employers in calling on Governor Kelly to end this counterproductive program and help get Kansans back to work.”

According to the letter sent by almost 200 businesses to Governor Kelly, the federal benefits are impacting businesses’ ability to hire new employees.

“Employers with temporary remote employees are slowly phasing in the return of their workforce to the physical office,” said the letter. “In addition, businesses who were forced to operate at reduced capacity are now unable to return to full capacity due to their inability to find and hire workers. While the state’s unemployment rate is low, there are currently more than 57,000 job openings across the state according to The March 2021 labor report shows 58,468 individuals receiving unemployment insurance.”

In the letter, the coalition said it believes the additional benefits were only meant to be a short-term solution, however, now many employers are finding it almost impossible to fully staff their businesses, which impacts the state’s ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coalition also points out that there are 21 states that have already opted out of the additional federal unemployment benefits. It said those states are as follows:

  • June 12, 2021
    • Alaska
    • Iowa
    • Mississippi
    • Missouri
  • June 19, 2021
    • Alabama
    • Idaho
    • Indiana
    • North Dakota
    • West Virginia
    • Wyoming
  • June 26, 2021
    • Arkansas
    • Georgia
    • Ohio
    • Oklahoma – also offering a one-time $1,200 Return to Work bonus
    • South Dakota
    • Texas
    • Utah
  • June 27, 2021
    • Montana – also offering a one-time $1,200 Return to Work bonus
  • June 30, 2021
    • South Carolina
  • July 3, 2021
    • Tennessee
  • July 10, 2021
    • Arizona – also offering a one-time $2,000 Return to Work bonus

“The supplemental unemployment benefits, provided in 2020 at the height of an unprecedented crisis, served their purpose at an important time in history. However, with the successful rollout of vaccinations in Shawnee County, and our local economy moving ahead once again, these benefits seem to be inhibiting some from returning to the workforce,” said President of the Topeka Chamber of Commerce, Curtis Sneden. “Many employers are now struggling to stay open and fill needed roles as job seekers are in short supply.  The time is right to end the supplemental unemployment benefits and get our community back to work.  The help wanted signs are out and jobs are waiting.”

Members of the coalition include but are not limited to: Auburn Washburn USD 437, City of Fort Scott, Emporia Hotels, GraceMed Health Clinic, Great Plains, Greatlife, Gyroville of Topeka, Kansas Bankers Association, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association, Lawrence Journal-World, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Midwest Health, Topeka Chamber of Commerce, Topeka Management Inc. and Travel Association of Kansas.

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