California lawmakers are considering options to provide additional unemployment benefits with an extra USD 600 per week, funded by the federal government this month.
According to Democratic assemblyman Phil Ting, the chair of the legal working group, the Democratic lawmakers favor the idea. The financial aid for jobless Californians is considered if Congress failed to extend the federal pandemic benefit.
Ting, who is also serving as a chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, highlighted that many locals rely on these benefits to pay rent and buy food. In his view, it is the state's job to intervene and help them.
Tin is working on the plan along with 25 other Senate and Assembly members. The group raised the issue as part of a joint USD 100-billion stimulus plan to protect locals and spur job creation.
Part of the plan features a proposal to borrow the money from the government to boost state unemployment insurance packages.
The working group will present its ideas to Gov. Gavin Newsom and his economic recovery team for review and approval.
The federal supplement ended on July 25. If the state or the government does not restore the program, state unemployment checks will go back to the weekly average of USD 340.
Under the proposal, California will borrow the necessary funds from a federal trust fund that has already been covering the state's expenses of paying unemployment benefits for its residents that lost their jobs due to pandemic.
The Golden State has already borrowed USD 6.5 billion from this trust fund to cover the unprecedented unemployment benefits since March.
So far, California paid moren than USD 50 billion in unemployment benefits since March and processed 8.7 jobless claims, Ting noted.
Ten years ago, California borrowed another USD 10.7 billion form this fund to pay the unemployment benefits during the recession. It repaid this loan in 2018 by increases taxes on employers.
The Senate is now considering whether to decrease the USD 600 unemployment benefits a week to USD 200. According to some lawmakers, many lower-qualified workers have no incentive to return to work due to the higher payments.
A study by University of California at Los Angeles found out that a potential cut of the federal supplement to USD 200 would lead to financial hurdles for many low-income Californian households.
Gov. Newsom said last week that he hoped that House Speaker Pelosi will convince Congress to allocate more financial help for distressed Californians.
What do you think? Do you support or oppose the idea of state-funded unemployment benefits?