With a number of states already approved for the Lost Wages Assistance Program, at least three states have announced that they will be paying 400 in enhanced unemployment benefits rather than the promised $300. Although President Donald Trump's executive order, which made the benefit possible after negotiations collapsed on Capitol Hill, called for an extra $400 weekly, $100 of that is required to be paid by the state. As a result, multiple states have already announced they will not pay that extra sum, as they cannot afford it.
Currently, Montana, West Virginia, and Kentucky have confirmed that they will reach into their own pockets to ensure their unemployed residents receive the full amount of funding, according to Forbes. The Associated Press reports that Montana, the eighth state to be approved by FEMA for the program, will pay the incremental $100 weekly state benefit from the $1.25 billion it received as part of the CARES Act. With the full $400 weekly enhancement, unemployment payments will range between $560 to $950.
West Virginia is following a similar route, with intentions to utilize its CARES Act allotment, also $1.25 billion, for the extra $100. Gov. Jim Justice vowed that "West Virginia's gonna pay it," stating that, "We're going to pay it and very willingly we're going to pay it," MetroNews reported. Justice has estimated that paying the extra money will cost the state $26 million each week. He said that "at he end of the day, we'll figure it out."
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed that his state will provide the extra $100 on Wednesday. Speaking with reporters at his coronavirus briefing, Beshear said that "while there is still some uncertainty in this new program, it is just too important to get these dollars to our families," Wave 3 News reported. He added that the extra $100 is "critically important" for recipients and that the money "moves through the economy." Beshear estimated that the extra funding will cost the state $8 million a week and explained that Kentucky will dip into funds provided to the state from the CARES Act.
North Carolina, meanwhile, remains undecided regarding the extra benefit. While Gov. Roy Cooper said he supports the state providing the extra $100, which he suggested could come from North Carolina's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, State Sen. Chuck Edwards, who co-chairs of the General Assembly's Joint Legislative Oversight, was a bit more skeptical. According to CBS 17, Edwards said that the extra money "is certainly a keen possibility, but we also need to consider the fact that the length of the state of emergency is unknown. What we're working to make sure happens right now is we're able to take advantage of the $300 that the federal government is offering us."
Currently, Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, Utah, and Montana have been approved to participate in the program. Both South Dakota and New York have rejected the program.