Kansas GOP senator pushes back as state keeps federal unemployment benefits

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – As some states across the country decide to put an end to federal unemployment benefits, Kansas will not be joining that list.

Governor Laura Kelly announced Wednesday that the state will continue to administer federal unemployment benefits.

“While the Governor will monitor this situation closely over the coming months, her primary focus remains on continuing her administration’s record-setting efforts recruiting new businesses and jobs to Kansas.” 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s Office

The announcement comes a day after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he will cut off all federal pandemic unemployment benefits to Missourians. 

Some GOP leaders have pushed to end federal unemployment benefits, or cut extensions, in an effort to address labor shortages, and get people back to work. Kansas’ U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, who’s pushed to roll back the extra $300 extensions in federal unemployment payments, said the governor’s decision will come with a cost.

“If the governor would go out and talk to businesses, talk to Kansans, she would quickly understand that the number one impediment in getting this economy growing is getting people back to work,” Marshall told KSNT’s Capitol Bureau.

Marshall said he doesn’t want to “pull the rug out” from anyone that is struggling to make ends meet, but he does want to help them find a job.

“There are 8 million jobs that are open across the country now, and certainly a large number in Kansas,” Marshall said. “If you are not qualified to do the jobs that are available, then what can we do to help you out?”

While federal unemployment benefits will continue for now, the governor is encouraging Kansans to apply to jobs by visiting the state’s job recruitment website for job opportunities and assistance.

Thousands of unemployed Kansans have struggled through the pandemic, with some still waiting to get unemployment payments. The state’s labor office reported more than 16,000 people in the backlog for one of the federal programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, this week.

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