May 21, 2020 Blog, Press Release

McConnell Turns His Back on Kentucky Families; Vows to Cut Unemployment Benefits

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell has told his Republican colleagues that he’s ready to leave nearly a quarter million Kentucky families to suffer financially by refusing to continue the $600 additional payments for unemployment claims, Politico reports.

McConnell’s determination to cut benefits comes as more than 47,000 Kentuckians filed initial unemployment claims as of May 16 and more than 246,000 Kentuckians are asking for continued unemployment assistance as of that same date, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has started, nearly 800,000 Kentuckians have filed for unemployment.

The decision to end expanded unemployment help to Kentucky families comes as McConnell continues to hold up additional relief for state and local governments dealing with the pandemic. Just this week, the Courier-Journal reported Kentucky’s unemployment insurance system could be forced to borrow up to $2 billion from the federal government, leading to higher taxes on employers.

McConnell’s delay is also pinching Kentucky’s cities and universities that are experiencing millions of dollars in budget deficits that could lead to layoffs or furloughs for essential employees like first responders and public health employees.

This is not the first time McConnell has taken a controversial stance on help to Kentuckians in need. Just last month McConnell suggested that he would rather let state’s go bankrupt than provide much needed help — a policy position that is deeply unpopular in Kentucky according to a recent poll that found 69% of Kentucky voters oppose it.

Marisa McNee, Kentucky Democratic Party spokesperson, said, “ This is what happens when you surround yourself with expensive DC consultants who don’t care about Kentucky. First, Mitch wanted to let states go bankrupt, leading to layoffs for first responders and public health officials. Now, he wants to cut unemployment benefits for Kentuckians who are out of work through no fault of their own. Kentucky deserves better.”