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Kansas businesses request governor end federal unemployment benefits



KANSAS – Nearly 200 businesses are asking Gov. Laura Kelly to opt-out of federal unemployment benefits in hopes of getting Kansans back to work.

The plea came Wednesday in the form of a letter from a coalition of “employers of all sizes and from all industries.” The group said as recovery from the pandemic continues, employers are phasing remote workers back into the office, and businesses that were once forced to operate at reduced capacity are now returning to full capacity.

The letter says there are more than 57,000 job openings across the state according to and 58,468 individuals receiving unemployment insurance, according to the March 2021 labor report.

“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 coalition said in the letter.

The group asked that the federal dollars instead be used to incentivize a return-to-work 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.

Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe), Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa) issued the following statement regarding the letter to the govenor.

“Governor Kelly continues to hold Kansas back. Her policies have put us dead last in everything from unemployment system security to vaccine distribution. We cannot afford to be dead last in our economic recovery. We join with Kansas employers in calling on Governor Kelly to end this counter productive program and help get Kansans back to work.”

As of May 19, 2021, 21 states have opted out of the federal unemployment benefits, including the neighboring states of Oklahoma and Missouri. Arizona, Oklahoma and Montana are all offering a one-time $1,200 Return to Work bonus.