FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, two Democrats, both say President Donald Trump’s executive order requiring the states to pay 25 percent of an unemployment supplement of $400 per week is unworkable.
During a Monday teleconference with reporters, Cuomo, who recently became the chairman of the National Governors’ Association, said he’s been speaking with Republican and Democratic governors alike, whose concerns are fairly consistent.
“States have significant financial deficits all across the board,” he said. “States have expended a lot of money to deal with COVID-19. States have seen significant economic loss because of COVID, and they have serious financial issues.”
Cuomo fears having to pay 25 percent of the $400 unemployment supplement in the president’s executive order will cost the state of New York $4.2 billion between now and December, money they don’t have. “The executive order makes the situation more complicated and virtually impossible,” he said.
Cuomo said he believes the executive order faces a court battle. “I think there are serious legal questions. It’ll get challenged and no one will get anything, so the situation will get worse in the country than it is today.”
Cuomo said his state is already in a $30 billion hole and the president’s executive order will only make it worse. “Your solution is going to cost me another $4 billion? Thank you. That’s like handing a drowning man an anchor. Hold on to this. Maybe it’s going to help. No, no, an anchor does not help a drowning man.”
His advice to the president: “When you are in a hole, stop digging. This executive order only digs the hole deeper.”
Beshear agreed the executive order is not workable in its current form. “We know that the $600 additional unemployment payment worked. I can show you, our last fiscal budget, which just ended, would have ended in the red, but we ended in a solid financial position. We can attribute a significant amount of that to the correct federal action in providing that additional $600.”
He said that money helped keep Kentucky’s economy afloat, “In our automotive sector, in retail, across just about every area of our economy. It’s absolutely critical that it, or the largest portion of it that they’re willing to authorize, continue. That will be the difference between if we are just dealing with this for months, or for years. The proposal for states to make a 25% match is something that virtually no state can afford, or if they break down the current version, can afford for very long.”
Beshear said Kentucky’s 25% would be $48-$60 million per month. “But based on calculations of how much money is put aside, this federal program might only last for five weeks, meaning states would be left picking up the full $400. In just looking at the last three months to get us through the rest of the year, we’d be looking at over $1.5 billion, something that’s just not possible for the commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Both governors said congressional action is needed to help out both red and blue states, because all 50 states cannot afford it. They also feared it would take weeks to reprogram the unemployment system computers to deal with changes in the system that the executive order would cause.