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‘I want to pay my bills’: Unemployed Kansans fed up over CARES Act money delay

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Unemployed Kansans are getting fed up about waiting almost a month to get their $600 weekly payment.

Governor Laura Kelly addressed the payment delay at her daily news conference Wednesday. She said because the money distribution was passed off to the states, instead of being handled by the federal government, the state is basically building a new platform to get the money to people. For those who are unemployed, waiting for the money isn’t paying the bills.

Michael McConnell has been unemployed for more than a month. McConnell worked at the Capital Plaza Hotel. While he’s still receiving his state unemployment every week, it’s not enough to cover everything.

“I’m too much behind on rent,” McConnell said. “I can’t buy groceries. The promise of the additional money was really pivotal for me.”

The promised money he’s talking about is the CARES Act. The act was signed into law on March 27 to provide an additional $600 to Americans who lose their jobs.

“I feel like if I’ve been laid off of work because of COVID-19, then I am certainly eligible,” McConnell said. “However, they’ve had the money for five weeks. And yet we get nothing. Not even a, ‘oh we’re going to give it to you. We’re going to give it to you.’”

Governor Kelly also addressed the frustration people have expressed about not getting the additional money. She said because this is something the state usually doesn’t handle, the state’s trying to find the best way to get it to people. She also said it isn’t just Kansas that’s struggling.

States like Oklahoma and Texas just began rolling out money within the last week.

“Every state is having to build a new platform within their current unemployment insurance system,” Gov. Kelly said. “So it’s hardly just Kansas having trouble getting those checks out. It is every state.”

McConnell said he will wait for the additional money because all he wants to do is to pay his bills.

KSNT News reached out to the Kansas Department of Labor to find out when the money would be available. A spokeswoman said interviews were not available.

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