(The Center Square) – An executive order President Donald Trump signed on Saturday to extend some unemployment benefits will face a court challenge, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, and the end result will likely be that no one will receive the supplemental payment.
Cuomo, the new chair of the National Governors Association, was joined on a call Monday by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. Both Democratic leaders raised concerns about Trump’s plan to provide additional unemployment benefits after the $600 weekly supplement from the CARES Act expired last month.
Trump’s plan reduces that added payment to $400. In addition, states would be responsible for a quarter of that, and both governors said cash-strapped states would not be able to provide that.
“We started with a $30 billion hole, and your solution [will] cost me another $4 billion? Thank you,” Cuomo said. “That's handing the drowning man an anchor. Hold on to this.”
Beshear credited the $600 stipend with helping his state avoid a budget deficit at the end of the last fiscal year.
In addition to some states not being able to afford paying an extra $100 a week to the unemployed under the administration’s order, Kentucky’s first-year leader questioned how much funding the federal government may put toward the program. He said he fears the program may not be funded for more than five weeks, which would then leave states on the hook for the entire $400.
Trump issued the order after Congressional leaders failed to bridge the gap on COVID-19 relief bills that are currently in the Democratic House and the Republican Senate. Beshear added that if Trump’s order helps spur Congress to act, then “maybe it’s a move that needed to happen.”
Both Beshear and Cuomo also urged the administration to consider making changes to the order that will force states to make changes to their unemployment claims processing systems. They said those changes can take weeks to implement.
“Just knowing [Trump’s order] in its current form that it's unworkable and as states, whether we speak out or not, we need changes to make sure that we can keep providing for our people,” Beshear said.
Kentucky, which has a system in place that’s 20 years old, faced a significant backlog in processing claims, with some waiting months to receive their payments. The Beshear administration ultimately needed to hire Ernst & Young to help process thousands of claims.
While Beshear said he wasn’t trying to be critical of the administration, Cuomo was less diplomatic. He also issued a challenge to another Kentuckian, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Earlier this year, McConnell floated the possibility that states be allowed to go bankrupt rather than receive a bailout for the billions of dollars in budget deficits they face.
“Propose the law to bankrupt states and watch the markets plummet overnight,” Cuomo said.