Gov. Kelly to meet with business leaders to discuss workforce concerns
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly plans to meet with business leaders in the state to discuss workforce concerns.
Some lawmakers and business leaders are putting pressure on Kelly to end the extra, weekly $300 unemployment benefits, which are part of American Rescue Plan.
Last week, nearly 200 businesses sent a letter to Kelly requesting to end the benefits.
House of Representatives leaders Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe), Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita) and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa) said in a statement that Kelly “continues to hold Kansas back.”
“Her policies have put us dead last in everything from unemployment system security to vaccine distribution,” the statement said. “We cannot afford to be dead last in our economic recovery. We join with Kansas employers in calling on Governor Kelly to end this counter productive program and help get Kansans back to work.”
Kelly sent a letter to business leaders asking to meet to discuss these concerns.
Unemployed Kansan Brian Schneden said it will hurt the most vulnerable unemployed people if the benefits are stopped.
“That was a pact they made with the American people until September, and I think the leaders should honor that,” Schneden said.
Schneden said he needs the extra funds to cover basic expenses as he searches for work. He said finding a job with good pay is no easy task.
“If I just focus on the Kansas City area or the Kansas area, it’s slim pickings unless I want a low paying job or a minimum wage job,” Schneden said.
In the letter to Kelly, the businesses point to the more than 57,000 job openings in the state, according to Indeed.com. The letter also references the more than 58,000 people receiving unemployment benefits, according to the March 2021 labor report.
Alan Cobb, president/CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said the jobs range in pay.
“It’s the gamut,” Cobb said. “It’s not just the low scale, some of the jobs are above $20 an hour, $30 an hour.”
Cobb said the weekly $300 isn’t the sole reason people aren’t going back to work, but it’s a factor.
“What is the reason for the $1,200 a month?” Cobb said. “I don’t know that I’ve heard a very compelling reason or slightly compelling reason to continue it now that the economy is back and we’ve actually been back for a while.”
Business leaders want to discuss re-directing available federal money toward return to work incentives and temporary child care assistance.
A day and time for the meeting has not been set yet.