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Beshear announces bonus payment for people who return to work

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 10:50 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Governor Andy Beshear held another Team Kentucky Update.

It’s the second such briefing, coming after the governor ended his routine COVID-19 updates. He now says he will provide weekly updates on various issues each Thursday:

Governor Beshear unveiled his plan to incentivize people to get back to work.

The governor says there will be a $1,500 bonus for people to return to work. To qualify, an applicant must:

  • Be a Kentucky resident;
  • Be employed by a Kentucky business between June 24 and July 30, 2021; and
  • Have an active unemployment insurance claim as of June 23, 2021.

A full outline of the criteria to qualify is available on the Back to Work Incentive website, teamkybacktowork.ky.gov

Beshear says the payment will go to the first 15,000 people who return to work by July 30. The payments will come from $22.5 million of the state’s coronavirus relief funds.

Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne issued the following statement about Gov. Beshear’s plan:

“Not only is paying people $1,500 to get a job extremely insulting to those who have worked throughout this pandemic, it defies logic that they would choose to do so as long as the additional federal payments are available. This is a classic government solution to a real world problem and problematic at many levels. The fact there are more than a hundred thousand available jobs, many of which already offer starting bonuses, should serve as plenty of incentive without a one-time payment. This is just another example of state government using taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers.”

Earlier this week, business leaders told a legislative task force they need help finding workers.

One association leader said he knows of no restaurant in the state that is fully staffed and some mom and pop style stores are having their owners work 60 to 70 hour weeks because they can’t find enough help.

Governor Beshear said last week he was considering ending the weekly $300 federal unemployment benefit before September, but believed now was too soon. The governor has said he’s hesitant to end the weekly federal benefit because of child care concerns.

Thursday, more help was announced for that industry.

“We are going to provide up to $760 million to shore up our child care providers in our child care system,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Eric Friedlander.

Friedlander says the money will help find workers and meet various expenses.

Beyond the child care aspect, Beshear says there are other reasons to keep the weekly $300 payment active.

“The major positive economic impact those dollars have. $34 million dollars a week going to our economy,” Beshear said. “Number one place they are spent, are groceries.”

Gov. Beshear says the bonus program will be administered by the Public Protection Cabinet and not the Labor Cabinet, which handles unemployment issues.

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