Kansas Chamber coalition to discuss ending additional federal unemployment benefits with Gov. Kelly

Kansas Statehouse
Kansas Statehouse(WIBW)
Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 4:33 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Business Community will meet with Governor Laura Kelly to discuss ending additional federal unemployment benefits and other ways to get Kansans back to work.

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce says a coalition of employers has accepted an invitation from Governor Laura Kelly to meet with her to discuss the best way for her to help employers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It said the invitation came after it sent a letter to Gov. Kelly urging her to end Kansas’ involvement in a federal program that provides an additional $300 in unemployment benefits.

“Kansas employers of all sizes and from all industries have serious concerns about the lack of available workers in our state. It is what prompted more than 270 employers to ask Governor Kelly to take action to assist them and their communities,” said Kansas Chamber President and CEO Alan Cobb. “We look forward to discussing the possible end of the additional UI payments and other actions Kansas can take to get workers back into the state’s workforce with the Governor.”

According to the Chamber, the coalition sent its acceptance to Gov. Kelly on Friday afternoon. It said the letter also updated her on workforce actions taken by other states and added the names of over 100 employees who support ending the additional benefits in Kansas.

“The HR professionals of the Kansas Society for Human Resource Management welcome the opportunity to meet with the Governor to discuss the real challenges facing our employers,” said KS SHRM Executive Director Natalie Bright. “Our professionals are on the front line daily assisting Kansas employers with managing their businesses in time of unprecedented worker shortfalls. Kansas has a real opportunity to invest in our workforce and we look forward to being a part of these round table discussions.”

While the state’s unemployment rate is low, the Chamber said there are currently over 57,000 job openings across the state. It said the March 2021 labor report indicates 58,468 individuals are receiving unemployment insurance.

“Now is the time to take a look at the best way to reopen Kansas,” said NFIB Kansas State Director Dan Murray. “Small business owners have taken the brunt of the pain when it comes to the pandemic. What they need right now is the ability to fill open jobs and create new ones to help get the Kansas economy back on track. They can’t do that when workers are being paid more to stay home than return to work.”

According to the Chamber, over 20 other states have announced they are ending their involvement with the supplemental benefits, including Missouri and Oklahoma. It said both Oklahoma and Colorado also offer one-time back-to-work bonuses.

“As a staffing HR professional, I see first-hand on a daily basis Kansas employers struggling to fill their open positions and keep their door opens. Other states are already ahead of Kansas in their efforts to get their employees back to work,” said The Arnold Group Vice President Phil Hayes. “I am thankful the Kansas business leaders stepped up and brought the ideas on how to incentivize Kansans to return to work and I am equally encouraged Governor Kelly has agreed to call the round table and to be a part of the discussions”

The Chamber said details of the meeting are still unknown.

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