Kansas Will Continue Extended Federal Unemployment Benefits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will not stop paying extended federal unemployment benefits that started during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Laura Kelly said.

Business groups, companies and Republican leaders have been pressuring Kelly to end the benefits, which include extra $300 weekly unemployment payments. They argue the additional benefits are discouraging people from searching for work, at a time when businesses can't find enough employees.

Kelly said Thursday the state focused on improving child care and other programs that would help people return to work, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

”What we did is we evaluated what happened in other states that had eliminated those benefits and we really found that wasn’t a silver bullet that is going to solve the workforce problem,” Kelly said.

The federal program is scheduled to end Sept. 6.

Rep. Sean Tarwater, a Republican from Stillwell, said people who lost work during the pandemic should be back in the workforce.

“They can walk into just about any store and get a vaccine and get back into the workforce,” Tarwater said Thursday. “COVID should no longer be an excuse to not work. We all woke up this morning and went to work, why didn’t they? Are they special? Why are they different than us?”