$300 unemployment-pay add-ons start but won’t last
Ruth Brown and Jacob Scholl, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Stateman) — The state says it will begin issuing the new $300 federal supplements to state unemployment for jobless Idahoans this week.
But there’s only enough money for the five weeks that have already passed since the original $600 weekly supplements expired in late July. They cover the weeks ending Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29. That means some workers who were unemployed for all five weeks could receive the entire $1,500 at once.
The $600 supplements were authorized by Congress in March as part of a coronavirus-relief law. But after they expired, Congress and Trump could not agree whether to continue them at $600, as Democrats wanted, or sharply reduce them, as Republicans sought. So Trump tapped previously appropriated federal disaster-relief funds to create the $300 supplements.
At first, Trump called upon states to add $100 payments of their own, bringing the payments to $400. When some states said they couldn’t afford to, the administration allowed states to apply their existing unemployment compensation to their $100 share instead. Idaho Gov. Brad Little had considered using unspent money Idaho received from another provision of the coronavirus relief law for the $100 but decided not to.
Trump’s executive order excluded people who receive less than $100 per week from the supplemental benefits, but Little said the state will seek to spend up to $15 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay the $300 supplements to those workers too.
“Idaho is third among states for lowest unemployment rates, thanks to the investments and creativity of Idaho’s businesses in safely reopening,” Little said in a news release. “We chose to participate in President Trump’s new program as part of a comprehensive approach to our economic rebound, which includes small business grants and return-to-work incentives.”