Kansas House leaders urge Gov. Kelly to end pandemic unemployment benefits

Kansas capitol
Posted at 2:39 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 15:39:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some Kansas Republicans are urging Gov. Laura Kelly to end federal unemployment benefits.

House of Representatives leaders Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe), Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita) and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa) said in a statement Wednesday that Kelly “continues to hold Kansas back.”

“Her policies have put us dead last in everything from unemployment system security to vaccine distribution,” the statement said. “We cannot afford to be dead last in our economic recovery. We join with Kansas employers in calling on Governor Kelly to end this counter productive program and help get Kansans back to work.”

Nearly 200 businesses recently sent a letter to Kelly also requesting an end to the benefits. Kansas City-area businesses Associated Wholesale Grocers, Super 8 Lenexa and Tuttle Agency- Farm Bureau Financial Services are among the 181 signees.

The businesses said in the letter that they believe the benefits were “an important short-term solution” to assist people at the beginning of the pandemic.

“However, 13 months later, many employers are finding it nearly impossible to fully staff their business which impacts the supply chain and timely delivery of goods and services,” the letter stated. “We believe other barriers may exist for those reentering the workforce. We would advocate to redirect available federal dollars toward incentivizing return-to-work with a signing bonus program, temporary child care assistance and training/retraining initiatives for Kansans who might have lost their jobs during the pandemic but have struggled to re-enter the workforce.”

Twenty-one states, including Missouri, have opted out of federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefits.