Kansas governor skeptical of Trump plan to extend benefits

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TOPEKA, Kan. — A spokeswoman says Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration is reviewing President Donald Trump’s plan to extend supplemental unemployment benefits but is waiting for more details.

A program providing an additional $600 a week to workers left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic expired July 31, and Congress hasn’t agreed on a bill including an extension. Trump announced a plan this weekend to provide an additional $400 a week in benefits but said states would have to cover 25% of the cost.

Kelly spokeswoman Lauren Fitzgerald called Trump’s plan only “a broad memo” and questioned whether he can provide the extra benefits through an executive order.

Kansas struggled to handle a huge surge of unemployment claims from the pandemic-related shutdown of the state’s economy this spring. Kelly blamed much of the problem on a decades-old computer system, but Labor Secretary Delia Garcia was forced to resign in June.

Fitzgerald said the state has limited resources.

“If we divert those resources to try and implement a plan that may not be permanent and may not even be legal, it could ultimately prevent Kansans receiving those benefits in a timely manner when a more permanent solution is just around the corner if Congress acts,” Fitzgerald said.

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