Ducey asks Congress for extension of unemployment benefits

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via AZ Capitol Times

Gov. Doug Ducey wants Congress to bail out the state’s rapidly depleting unemployment trust fund, provide liability protection for businesses, schools and health care workers, and extend the special federal unemployment benefits – but not necessarily at the same level as now.

The requests come in a letter the governor sent to the state’s two U.S. senators and nine representatives as they weigh what’s being dubbed Phase 4 of the relief package.

Most immediate is the fact that the extra $600 a week being provided by the federal government in jobless benefits expires this coming week. That would leave those still out of work here with no more than $240 a week in state benefits.

Ducey has repeatedly sidestepped the question of raising the state benefits cap, which is the second lowest in the nation, saying that Arizonans are protected by that extra $600 a week. In his letter, the governor asks Congress to extend what’s called the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, though he does not say for how long.

Nor is he convinced that $600 is the right number.

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