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181 businesses send letter to Kansas Gov. Kelly asking to stop extra unemployment benefits



TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas businesses are telling Gov. Laura Kelly that they can’t find workers because of extra money going into unemployment benefits.

A group of organizations and businesses sent a letter to the governor Tuesday urging the governor to end the $300 bonus.

Some of the businesses included are the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Farm Bureau, the Lawrence Journal-World, to name a few.

Then on Wednesday, the top three Republicans in the Kansas House also called on Kelly to end the additional benefits.

Kelly previously said she won’t end additional pandemic relief benefits going to unemployed Kansans, but also said the “final decision” hasn’t been made yet.

The businesses made their case that they were operating at a reduced capacity during the pandemic, but now can’t return to full operations because they can’t fill their jobs.

Some Topeka businesses told sister station KSNT they’re seeing the same problem. The letter said there are more than 57,000 job openings in Kansas and 58,468 people receiving unemployment benefits.

“Our coalition would respectfully ask that the state end the additional UI federal benefits. We believe this additional benefit was an important short-term solution to help individuals who were adversely impacted at the start of the pandemic. However, 13 months later, many employers are finding it nearly impossible to fully staff their business which impacts the supply chain and timely delivery of goods and services.”

The businesses didn’t just ask the governor to refuse the federal pandemic aid, but rather find a new use for it.

“We would advocate to redirect available federal dollars toward incentivizing return-to-work with a signing bonus program, temporary childcare assistance and training/retraining initiatives for Kansans who might have lost their jobs during the pandemic but have struggled to re-enter the workforce.”

The businesses cite Montana as an example for the employment bonus program. That state is offering a one-time $1,200 bonus for anyone who returns to work.

Read the full letter from the coalition of Kansas businesses here. The second and third pages show the full list of businesses who signed onto this letter.

Kelly’s office did not respond Wednesday to the calls for her to end the extra benefits but pointed to a statement last week saying she would “monitor this situation closely” but is focusing on recruiting businesses and creating jobs.