Aug. 11 (UPI) — U.S. governors said they can’t afford the shared costs in President Donald Trump’s $400 weekly unemployment rescue payment passed as an executive order Saturday as part of an emergency coronavirus pandemic package.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would face a $700 million per week outlay in California that would blow holes in the state budget if state funds were used to pay $100 of the coronavirus pandemic unemployment subsidy.
“The state does not have an identified resource of $700 million per week that we haven’t already obliged,” Newsom said Monday. “There is no money sitting in the piggy bank.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the state could pay its quarter-share of the federal unemployment payments for “two or three weeks” and that the state’s unemployment trust fund is almost out of money. The state would have to come up with $30 million per week, the governor said Monday.
Colorado is “still awaiting technical guidance from the US Department of Labor on options for implementation within the states,” wrote Cher Roybal Haavind, deputy executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded Sunday to the new shared-payment plan calling it “impossible,” “laughable” and “just a chapter in the book of Washington COVID mismanagement.” Cuomo said the president’s proposal could cost the state $4 billion.
“I don’t know if the president is genuine in thinking the executive order is a resolution or this is just a tactic in the negotiation, but this is irreconcilable for the state,” Cuomo said.
Other governors also said their state budgets could not afford an increase in unemployment claim payouts.
Trump at first suggested that states set aside $44 million from the federal CARES Act payments to cover their 25% share, but California has already burned through 75% of their funding and has allocated the rest, Newsom said Monday.
But a U.S. Labor Department spokesman told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday that states “are encouraged, but not required” to pay the $100. Unemployment recipients in those states would just receive a $300 federal payment.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said Monday that his state will not participate in any matching program from the federal government, but will pass through the $300 payment to current unemployment recipients and add $100 from existing state unemployment benefits.
As in other states, the new program would involve reconfiguring computer software programs that determine the state’s jobless benefits, causing even more expense, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney told the Columbus Dispatch.
Many state governments are waiting to see if Congress can hammer out a second pandemic relief bill on their own, or if Trump’s executive orders are declared unconstitutional or stopped by lawsuits.
“My hope is that the president’s executive order won’t have to be implemented in the end because we can actually get our act together in Congress this week and come up with an agreement,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on Monday.