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GOP lawmakers join in latest push to end federal unemployment benefits

GOP lawmakers join in latest push to end federal unemployment benefits

TOPEKA (KSNT) --- A new push to end increased federal unemployment benefits in Kansas came from Republican lawmakers as they returned for the last day of session on Wednesday.

Senate President Ty Masterson pushed a concurrent resolution to urge Governor Laura Kelly to end the extra $300 weekly payments, included in the most recent relief package. The resolution passed in both the House and Senate.

"We would like the current administration to remove the perverse incentive, and help get our people back to work," Masterson said.

This was among the first items of business lawmakers took up, and comes as the latest push to end the increased payments, also known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). It's a program that extends to all individuals receiving regular unemployment insurance or other federal programs, like PUA and PEUC.

Several of the state's GOP congressional leaders previously urged the governor to put an end to the program, along with the Kansas Chamber of Commerce joined by several businesses.

Governor Laura Kelly is planning to meet with businesses in the coming days to talk about the issue.

Some Democrats found the move to introduce a resolution needless, given the current efforts to open a discussion.

"I don't think this resolution is necessary, and I actually think it hinders the conversation," said Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa.

Senator Tom Holland, D-Baldwin, argued that the current wages offered to workers are not enough, and that business leaders should think about how that could impact their workforce in the long term.

"They are going to have to start paying livable wages for those non-and-semi skilled employee positions if they truly want committed, long-term employees."

The American Rescue Plan extends federal benefit programs, like FPUC, PUA, and PEUC, until September 4, 2021.

Some states have decided to end some of the programs early. The governor has previously said that she has not made a “final decision” on the matter.

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