Kansas plan puts $450M in COVID funds in unemployment system

Capitol Bureau

Kansas state Rep. Sean Tarwater, R-Stilwell, makes a point during a legislative committee’s discussion of an audit that said the state might have paid $600 million in fraudulent unemployment claims in 2020, at the Statehouse, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Topeka, Kan. Tarwater is the House commerce committee’s chair and has been highly critical of the state Department of Labor’s efforts to combat fraud. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Kansas have advanced a new proposal to put $450 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government into the state’s unemployment program to help cover losses from fraudulent claims.

GOP members of the House commerce committee included the measure Friday in a bill aimed at overhauling the unemployment system. The committee approved the bill on a voice vote, sending it to the full House for debate, possibly as early as next week.

GOP lawmakers are worried that employers, which pay taxes to finance unemployment benefits, will be on the hook to cover fraudulent claims. Some Democrats were wary of the proposal to set aside federal dollars.

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