The federal government has approved Gov. Andy Beshear’s application for a $400 per week supplement to unemployment benefits.
The supplement was created by President Donald Trump earlier this month after the previous $600 per week unemployment benefit expired at the end of July.
The new payments only apply to people who were unemployed between July 26 and August 15 and are expected to be sent out in September.
In a statement, Beshear said that the benefit will apply to about 80,000 out-of-work Kentuckians.
“COVID-19 has caused the loss of millions of jobs across the nation, and unfortunately Kentucky is no exception,” Beshear wrote “I am committed to fighting for every dollar to help our people survive this global pandemic and our workforce return to full strength.”
Beshear initially said that Trump’s executive order was “unworkable” because the president indicated that states would have to pay for 25% of the cost of the new benefit.
Then this week, the White House said that states also had the option to not pay their share and receive a $300 payment, or use their federal CARES Act funds to foot the cost of the remaining $100 benefit.
Beshear said that unlike most states approved for the new program, Kentucky would be leveraging the full $400 benefit.
“We have decided to provide an extra $100 using CARES Act money. Kentucky’s portion will be approximately $8 million per week, for a total of $24 million over the three-week initial grant period,” Beshear wrote.
Beshear said the computer systems used to process unemployment claims would have to be reconfigured to handle the new benefit, a process that would take about two weeks.
Kentucky has had a rough rollout of its expanded unemployment system during the coronavirus pandemic, creating frustration for unemployed workers and drawing the ire of Republican opponents.
Beshear and other state officials have blamed the system’s troubles on an out-of-date computer system and an understaffed unemployment office.
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting revealed last month that at the beginning of the pandemic, the state’s unemployment office was headed up by an well-connected official with no experience in unemployment systems or state government.