Virginia applying to participate in Trump’s $300-a-week unemployment supplement
After a week of deliberation, Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration said Wednesday that Virginia is in the process of applying for federal funds made available by President Donald Trump to supplement state unemployment benefits by $300 a week.
But officials cautioned many questions remain about the program, including ongoing uncertainty about how long the additional funds will last as more and more states seek to tap into the program.
Northam’s chief workforce adviser, Megan Healy, said it will likely be at least three weeks before the money begins reaching unemployed Virginians. She said the that while the state goes through the application process, they’ve already begun the process of reprogramming the computer system the state uses to administer jobless benefits — a 1980s based system that has led to delays throughout the pandemic.
“We’re still working on our IT infrastructure,” Healy said. “We’re hoping it will be three to four weeks, but we have to get approved and guidelines are still changing everyday, so you never know what’s coming.”
Trump signed an executive order just over a week ago extending disaster relief funds to fill the gap created when a $600-weekly federal supplement expired last month and Congress was unable to reach a deal to extend the benefits.
The program was initially framed as a $400-a-week supplement, with the federal government providing a $300 match to states that agree to pay the remaining $100. But most states said they couldn’t afford to foot that cost amid a historic pandemic and the Trump administration later said that they would extend the $300 whether or not states kick in any of their own funds.
The administration is still weighing whether to provide an additional $100 supplement. Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne told lawmakers Tuesday it would cost the state $45 million a week.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.